Dr LEE Jong-wook Memorial School Team
Changing world by nurturing people
In order for a healthcare system to be successfully established in a country, there must be enough professionals working in the local communities. That is why KOFIH runs Dr LEE Jong-wook Fellowship Program which trains healthcare experts in developing countries. Dr LEE Jong-wook Memorial School Team generally manages and operates the entire program and contributes to laying the foundation for international healthcare.
- Article: Jeong Ra-hee / Photography: Maju Snap
Changing the world beyond a country
- Director Jung Hye-jin
The most important resource for international health cooperation is "people." Establishing healthcare infrastructure and providing financial supports are necessary, but it would be useless if there are no professionals to implement such works in the field. Many countries have realized the importance of professional workforce since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, it has been proved that countries with healthcare systems centered on professional workforce have better responded to the crisis. The late Dr LEE Jong-wook, who laid the foundation for KOFIH's foundation, also stressed, "We need to train global healthcare professionals to respond to healthcare issues." "Dr LEE Jong-wook Fellowship Program" is a proof that South Korea has the capacity to foster such healthcare professionals.
When the "Dr LEE Jong-wook Fellowship Program" was launched in 2007, a department dedicated to the program was organized within KOFIH and it was the starting point of the Dr LEE Jong-wook Memorial School Team. The department name changed to as it is now in July this year. Currently, the team is responsible for surveying country-specific demands, planning training courses, operating training program, selecting and managing contracted training institutes, supporting on-site training for the fellows, disseminating outcomes, and linking with other cooperative projects of each country, to name a few.
- Deputy Manager Jeong Da-eun
I joined KOFIH this year and was assigned to this team. Before I joined KOFIH, I vaguely thought that training programs are just about giving positive perception of Korea to trainees from developing countries. However, as I became a member of Dr LEE Jong-wook Memorial School Team and participated in various training courses in person, I became assured that the healthcare systems of the partner countries could be further developed when the fellows who visited Korea return to their home countries. Currently, I am in charge of the course for infectious disease specialists. For me, it was impressive to see that the fellows closely examined and recorded Korea's advanced medical system even though they are public officials with abundant healthcare experience in their home countries.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which confused the whole world, was also a crisis for the team. While healthcare professionals were urgently required to respond to infectious diseases, we needed to come up with a plan for safe and smooth operation of the educational program. Dr LEE Jong-wook Memorial School Team switched the program to provide training courses online, if possible, developed guidelines for handling emergencies, and commissioned necessary issues to emergency-responsible institutions. In a situation where everyday was overflowed with different episodes, all team members cooperated each other and made the impossible possible.
Planting the seeds of transferring healthcare knowledge
- Manager Yang Bo-min
I think knowledge is more valuable when it flows than just being stagnant. The course I am mainly responsible for the training course for biomedical engineers who maintain, repair and manage medical devices. I am also involving the process that the fellows who have completed biomedical engineering courses in Korea would provide education to local biomedical technicians after returning to their home countries.
Recently, I visited Ghana for a local education on medical device technology, and it was rewarding to see the fellows teach their colleagues the techniques they learned.
The fellows from Ghana now play leading roles in planning and operating long-term projects in cooperation with KOFIH that will last for five years or so, going beyond the roles as trainees and, then, transferring knowledge to colleagues in their home countries. Their remarkable activities and dedication make the team members feel proud.
- Deputy Manager Kim Jeong-yoon
Trainees for clinical courses are usually doctors or nurses from local hospitals, public health centers and affiliated health posts in partner countries. They provide healthcare services directly to local residents. Such courses allow community residents to see and experience effects of the training program in a short period of time as they can immediately apply what they learned from the training courses (e.g., Korea's healthcare system and medical techniques) when they return to their home countries.
In fact, as a deputy manager in charge of the training program, I feel proud and rewarded when I hear the news that the fellows who have completed clinical courses such as obstetrics and gynecology, surgery, internal medicine and otolaryngology are contributing to improving the health of local residents. As such, well-trained healthcare professionals are an important driving force for strengthening the healthcare environment of partner countries.
- Assistant Manager Shin Ga-young
I have been in charge of the course for graduate degrees in the Team since March last year. The course for graduate degrees began in 2020, and as two years have passed already, some trainees completed the thesis review and earned a Master's degree. It is not easy to write a thesis in a specialized field while simultaneously working to improve English proficiency within a designated time period. I felt proud to see the fellows who strived to concentrate on study and even received an excellent thesis award while staying apart from their families for two years. When they return to their home countries, they will be the first ones therein with the master’s degree in the field.
For the fellows concentrating on their studies in a foreign country, Dr LEE Jong-wook Memorial School Team tried to listen to the them more closely. Instead of leaving completion of the degree course as an individual task for the fellows, the team held meetings with the trainees to listen to their difficulties on a regular basis. Such activities were taken as a sign to the fellows that the team would stay by their side like a family while they are staying in Korea.
Toward another beginning, not an end
- Deputy Manager Kim Soo-jin
I am responsible for the training courses for health policy and administrators along with rehabilitation. Most of the fellows in the courses for health policy and administrators are health administrators working at the central Health Ministries or regional health departments in the country. I support them to contribute to strengthening policy planning and research capacity in their homes after returning to the home countries. The rehabilitation course deals with a very specific area of clinical rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is still unfamiliar in developing countries, and rehabilitation medicine is often in its initial stage. I expect that this training course will produce key human resources in each country's rehabilitation field.
Fellows tend to prefer practical training and research projects that are practically helpful in the field, rather than merely acquiring knowledge. During the training course, Dr LEE Jong-wook Memorial School Team helps trainees come up with specific action plans that can be applied in the field. Through the process of developing action plans based on one-on-one consultations with their advisory professors, the fellows can greatly improve their capacity.
- Assistant Manager Kang Jin-sol
Dr LEE Jong-wook Fellowship Program is not a one-off event, but supports fellows to demonstrate their capabilities more efficiently for their institutions and countries even after returning home. The KOFIH Global Alumni (KGA) is a representative case. Recently, I also went on a business trip for the general alumni meeting held in Cambodia. I was very pleased to meet the fellows of the 2020 program again after they returned to their home country.
KOFIH Global Alumni (KGA) is not just a social gathering. KGA provides a connecting point to interact and communicate for the fellows from the same country who were unable to interact with each other since they took the training at different times. Based on such exchanges, they continue various healthcare activities on site. In regard to KGA, KOFIH supports three major areas: community activities including medical check-ups for low-income families, disseminating education for healthcare workforce in the country and support for research areas.
The ultimate goal of Dr LEE Jong-wook Memorial School Team is to make people come up with "Dr LEE Jong-wook Memorial School" when they think about "developing global healthcare professionals." Just as small seeds grow and become big trees, the team hopes that each and every person who has gone through Dr LEE Jong-wook Fellowship Program will become a reliable and strong foundation for international health cooperation.