After graduating from medical school in 2003, Jennifer
Bellows, MD volunteered at a rural clinic in eastern Guatemala.
Armed with a desire to provide much-needed care and perfect
her Spanish-speaking skills, Bellows found herself at what she thought would be
a 24-hour medical clinic with an on-staff American physician.
Instead, she found herself working alone.
“I was the only ‘doctor’ for miles, and every day
administered the kind of substandard care only a freshly-minted physician right
out of med school can provide,” said Bellows. “Terrified that I might cause
real and significant harm—to both my patients and my future career—I ended my
stay six months earlier than planned.”
But it was this experience that le
ad her to
develop a vision for the University
of Colorado School of Medicine Global Health Track, where she serves as
Since Guatemala, she has spent time in capacity-building and
educational projects and completed a masters’ degree in global health policy.
She’s devoted her career to global health projects that benefit not only the
visiting volunteer or worker but also the patients and health care systems
“My goal for the track students is to provide them with an
understanding that global health includes not only clinical work, but also
research, education, public health, cultural competency, and ethics,” said
Student global health activities will be supervised, focus
on sustainability, and include outcome evaluation and monitoring. Track
didactics will focus on how the student may participate, create, and continue
to work on projects that prioritize these issues well into their future
The Global Health Track provides educational and
experiential opportunities for students interested in international health
care. The track is a four-year commitment, which meets students’ MSA (Mentored
Scholarly Activity, a longitudinal scholarly project) requirement for
graduation. Dr. Bellows also serves as Assistant Professor in the Department of