OCT. 26, 2006 | A high school trip to the United Nations spurred a lifelong interest in international relations for Diane Heestand, Ed.D.
She has since used that interest to help promote medical education in developing countries, including a recent nine-month sabbatical in Nigeria. “Medical education has not historically been well supported in Nigeria,” said Heestand, professor and director of the Office of Educational Development at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). “Although their system is not as structured as ours in the United States, I was very impressed with the rapport between the students and faculty.”
Heestand’s trip, which started September 2005, was based at two Nigerian medical schools — the University of Jos and the University of Nigeria. While there, she conducted medical education workshops, assessed the needs of the colleges, helped the faculty develop learning objectives and presented lectures, among other activities.
With assistance from friends and colleagues in Little Rock, Heestand also presented the University of Jos’ Medical Instructional Technology Unit with a digital camera, digital video camera, software and clip art worth more than $6,000. “They had no digital equipment,” she said. “With these donations, we were able to shoot a fund-raising video. They also will have this equipment to assist their medical education program in the future.”
Heestand plans to continue promoting medical education in all of Nigeria’s 20 accredited medical schools by working with the National Universities Commission, the federal organization that manages the country’s higher education program. Ultimately, she hopes the country will adapt the “Global Minimum Essential Requirements” for medical school graduates as established by the Institute for International Medical Education.
“I was very impressed by the quality of instruction at the universities. If they adapt the minimum requirements that other countries use, it will only help to raise their educational level and their status,” Heestand said.
The UAMS Department of Educational Development consists of educators who work with the university’s college and graduate school faculty to develop the educational programs. This includes promoting the use of new technology as well as providing program evaluation for research grants and educational research.