Global Citizenship in the Operating Room
May 20, 2022
by Susan Diamond, Surgical Technology Faculty
As a surgical technology instructor, I am privileged to team teach with a talented and encouraging group in a small department, where our students stay with us for three semesters, and we come to grow quite close with them. Our students never cease to amaze me. While of course, every student has a unique story, many of them hold positions of responsibility within their families, work full or part-time, and still devote themselves fully to our program, which demands so much from them, mentally, physically, and even emotionally. Most of our students feel called to service as future healthcare providers. However, since they are so focused on earning their degrees and matriculating into a career as a surgical technologist, their view of the span of that service can become rather narrow.
Enter the Global Citizenship project. Students were able to pick from one of three topics (issues in medical waste, healthcare equity, or medical missions) and explore curated resources before presenting information they had learned and their perceptions about their role in improving conditions for patients in their community, and in communities the world over. The format of the work was up to each student, so although there was a framework and required elements, there was room for students to make creative and meaningful choices about the project. At project completion, 90% of students said they felt the unit had inspired them to use their roles as surgical technologists to help people in ways they may not have previously considered. All students showed a shift in perceptions in comparing surveys done before and after the project. Some thoughts students shared after submitting their projects included: “There are many people in the world that we can help. Even the smallest thing that we can change will make a big impact even if we don’t see it right away”; “One’s thoughts on knowing what’s best may not always line up with others, especially if one doesn’t know their values”; “It reminded me that healthcare is larger than just the OR room”; and “One thing I enjoyed was learning about how the world spends their resources. It made me want to change how I use things around my house.”
I lead with this information because in my estimation, the value in any type of faculty enrichment program can be most directly measured by its effect on students. I found it remarkable the way the Global Citizenship FLC was crafted, to work together seamlessly with the Global Gender and Women’s Studies FLC. Having a chance to bring both groups together really widened the lens of our reflections, interactions, and intents to make a difference in the lives of our students. I enjoyed hearing from my colleagues about the projects they were developing, and their input was essential to the design of the project I was able to implement. Being able to come together once a month and share insights into teaching with amazing thinkers in all disciplines was a wonderful way to avoid being siloed. There were excellent speakers whose work was not only relevant to global citizenship, but whose ingenuity, passion, and even bravery were inspirational. Discussions that stayed with me over time included consideration of theatre-based pedagogy, defining and encouraging activism, issues surrounding migration, asylum, and refugees’ rights, and even a presentation on the relationship between Russia and Ukraine since WWII by a historical scholar in the area who is also a Ukrainian national. I am so grateful to have had the honor of participating in the richness of this environment. The way that the ACC International Programs have come together with the University of Texas Hemispheres Consortium is a model of collaboration across institutions, and it is something ACC faculty are fortunate to have access to. The leadership of the FLC were very organized and so supportive of all the participants. The progression through the school year that brought us these jewels of presentations, complimented with the chance to pursue designing a project that would be meaningful to our students in an atmosphere of support and goodwill, was nothing short of inspirational to me and my fellow participants. As transformed as I felt by the experience, as previously noted, feelings of growth within faculty members are secondary to the impact of that growth on students. I am happy to say that my students found the fruits of this FLC to be very worthwhile, and they asked that the project be expanded for future students. Listening to my colleagues develop their projects, and present on the final day, dramatically demonstrated the positive impact global studies can bring to any classroom. I think of all the ways this FLC is changing the learning journey in so many disciplines at ACC, and I know with certainty that we are all more than the sum of our parts. I am so thankful to all the members of this community, for your wisdom, patience, kindness, and overarching belief in me and each other.