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Dr. Jennifer Bellows Assumes Director Role for Global Health Track

How her volunteer experience helped shape her vision for future students

Dr. Jennifer Bellows
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 lead her to develop a vision for the University of Colorado School of Medicine Global Health Track, where she serves as program director.

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 served.

“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 Bellows.

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 careers. 

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 Emergency Medicine.​