Health and Medical Education in Nepal
Nepal's small size belies its extraordinary ethnic and geographic diversity. Owing to rugged Himalayan landscape that dominates the northern half of the country, many groups of people have remained relatively isolated from "modern" life, including modern medicine. The goal of the Patan Academy of Health Sciences (PAHS) is to deliver modern medical care to these communities, who are among the most underserved in the country. This is a difficult problem, given that the traditional way of life in Nepal is inherently unreliant on money, which means that these communities cannot afford advanced medicine, and that few doctors opt to work in these locations. PAHS leadership has adopted several strategies to overcome this challenge. First, in addition to gauging applicants' academic record and command of science, PAHS also interviews the applicants to assess their empathy, compassion, and motivation for becoming a doctor. Second, PAHS leadership constantly stresses the goals of the school to the faculty and students, and additionally emphasizes them by including Community Based Learning in the curriculum, in which students spend significant time in rural districts, living in households and familiarizing themselves with the local health resources. Third, PAHS accepts a large fraction of applicants from rural areas, and from diverse ethnic groups, with the expectation that they will be likely to return to their communities, rather than seek lucrative jobs overseas. In order to allow students from these backgrounds to attend medical school, PAHS offers partial or full scholarships to about two thirds of its student body.

Because students in Nepal come to medical school directly from high school, PAHS gives a six month bridge course in medically relevant physics, chemistry and biology, in lieu of the college pre-requisites that American medical students take. I worked at PAHS during its inaugural year as a volunteer faculty, teaching medically relevant physics and chemistry, and overhauling the Basic Sciences curriculum. I continue to support the school as a consultant and financially, and will return to teach in the future. If you are a scientist or doctor interested in volunteering with PAHS, you can contact me to find out more. You can also donate to PAHS through the Friends of Patan Hospital.

Short video about volunteering at PAHS

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