May 31, 2022

UCalgary professor works, teaches in Uganda for 3 months to advance emergency medicine

Global health collaboration uses clinical exchanges to help build medical capacity in east Africa
Emergency Medicine Collaboration team members standing holding medical equipment
Emergency Medicine Collaboration team members. Courtesy Margriet Greidanus

With a population of more than 45 million served by only 10 emergency medical doctors, there is significant need and desire to build capacity in emergency care and medical training in the east African country of Uganda. 

Dr. Margriet Greidanus, MD, a clinical assistant professor in the Cumming School of Medicine’s (CSM) Department of Emergency Medicine, is there now through a unique UCalgary program, participating in morning rounds and engaging with emergency medicine physicians and residents to help develop teaching tools and plans.

She also brought a portable point-of-care ultrasound machine, courtesy of the Sonosite global health program. The machine is on loan and is being used in training sessions to improve patient care and outcomes. 

Greidanus is there with the Calgary-Mbarara Emergency Medicine Collaboration (CMEM), part of a long-standing partnership between the CSM’s Indigenous, Local and Global Health (ILGH) Office and the Mbrarara University of Science and Technology in Uganda (MUST). 

MUST is one of more than 20 universities that are global partners with the CSM on health and social equity projects. This includes travelling internationally to experience the local hospitals and medical education systems first-hand and hosting international institutes on medical education in Calgary.

Supporting global health equity

Every morning at 8 a.m., Greidanus attends hospital rounds. Residents present the most serious patient cases reviewing the history, physical exam, diagnosis, and treatment. Her role is to support the development of emergency medicine in Uganda through teaching, curriculum review, simulation sessions, ultrasound training, bedside teaching and clinical coaching.

Greidanus arrived with her husband and three children in Mbarara, Uganda in early April. The trip was originally planned for September 2020 but was delayed by the COVID pandemic.

 Margriet Greidanus and her family in Uganda.

Margriet Greidanus and her family in Uganda.

Courtesy Margriet Greidanus

She is the former co-program director for Calgary’s College of Family Physicians Emergency Medicine residency program at the CSM. She also has previous experience with clinical and educational work abroad. She feels she has a responsibility to use her education, experience and position to help others and to create health equity both in Canada and around the world. 

“The few emergency medicine pioneers in Uganda are desperately working to increase the capacity of emergency care in the country. They have seen what emergency department care can be and should be. They want the medical residents to see their vision for emergency department care in Uganda — to make a difference and save lives,” says Greidanus. 

New program focuses on emergency medicine

It is this dedication to improving emergency medicine education that brought CMEM to life in 2019. Dr. Derek Harborne, former department head of Emergency Medicine at MUST, was speaking to Dr. Dianne Mosher, MD, associate dean, ILGH Office about plans for strengthening MUST’s emergency medicine program. At the same time, she received an email from Dr. Andrew Battison, MD, a clinical assistant professor in the CSM’s Department of Emergency Medicine, asking if she knew of capacity-building opportunities in emergency medicine in global health.

“It was serendipitous that at the moment I was talking with Dr. Harborne from MUST that I received an email from CSM faculty asking if I knew if any of our global health partners were looking for an opportunity to collaborate in emergency medicine,” says Mosher. “From there, we were able to work together to make it a reality quite quickly.”

An emergency medicine trainee uses the Sonosite ultrasound machine.

An emergency medicine trainee uses the Sonosite ultrasound machine.

Through CMEM the team hopes to continue arranging visiting faculty from CSM and have more MUST medical faculty and learners visit UCalgary annually to develop departmental leadership and medical education skills. 

“Through the partnership we hope to build a foundation for a self-sustaining emergency medicine training program at MUST,” says Battison.

CMEM is also developing an elective program at MUST that will enable senior residents from the CSM to foster professional relationships with Ugandan colleagues to build a network of support for emergency medicine education, while strengthening their own understanding of different health-care systems.

CMEM is funded by the McLaughlin Travelling Medical Education Fund. To learn more, please visit the ILGH Office website

Dianne Mosher is a rheumatologist and professor in Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine at the Cumming School of Medicine, and associate dean, Indigenous, Local and Global Health Office. She is also a member of the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health.

Andrew Battison is an emergency physician and clinical assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Cumming School of Medicine. He leads the global health interest group within the Department of Emergency Medicine.

Margriet Greidanus is an emergency medicine physician and Clinical Assistant Professor in the Division of Emergency Medicine at the Cumming School of Medicine. She works as an emergency physician at both the Peter Lougheed Hospital and Foothills Medical Centre.