Global Health Senior Conducts Research on Infections in Tanzania

DECEMBER 5, 2017 - Chandler Hinson (NHS’18), a global health major, has spent the fall semester working on research, focused on infections, in Tanzania as a part of the Department of International Health’s 12-credit research practicum experience for seniors.

The aspiring physician, also a varsity athlete on Georgetown’s swimming and diving team, has served as president of GlobeMed and Public Health Brigades. He took some time to share his thoughts about his experiences abroad and at the university.

Question: What are you working on this semester in Tanzania?

Hinson: I am working for the National Institute for Medical Research in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, conducting research on hospital-acquired surgical site infections and the transmission routes for the pathogens associated at Muhimbili Orthopedic Institute. I am collecting wound samples from clinically diagnosed patients to identify the specific pathogen causing the infection. I will compare the results with specimens from high-touch surfaces in the general and operative wards, surgical equipment, tap water, and health care workers’ hands. Additionally, I am observing water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) practices of health care workers to understand if they are placing their patients at risk for contracting an infection through a lack of proper practices.

Question: Now that the semester is at its close, what would you say are some highlights from your time abroad?

Hinson: I have enjoyed conducting my research at the national orthopedic institute in Tanzania. The summer prior to researching in Tanzania, I worked at a pediatric emergency room, so I was exposed and had experience working in the health care field. Witnessing the large differences between health care provision between home and here has been extremely eye-opening. Even though sometimes it is intimidating to be a visiting undergraduate student among the Tanzanian doctors, I really enjoy immersing myself in the large hospital environment.

During my week off from research, I travelled to Mafia Island and became PADI Open Water Scuba Certified. I have scuba dove before at the Great Barrier Reef, but the coral reefs at Mafia Island were so much more colorful and there was so much life. I saw moray eels, electric rays, octopuses, and every fish imaginable. Also on the island, I had to opportunity to swim with a whale shark. This was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had. I swam with the biggest fish in the ocean, me being 6-feet tall and it being up to 50-feet long.

Question: How have you enjoyed Georgetown and the global health major?

Hinson: I believe the global health major has one of the strongest curriculum’s out of any major at Georgetown. It really focuses on providing the student practical experience. By the time I graduate, I will have had three different internships experiences, each providing me with a set of skills that could not have been mastered in the typical classroom setting. Through the major, I made great mentors who have supported me and guided me in blazing my own path. Without Georgetown and the global health major, I would not feel as experienced and confident in myself and my abilities.

Question: Tell us a little about your time at GU. What activities have you been a part of?

Hinson: I am member of the varsity men’s swimming and diving team. While abroad, I have been training so I can return to finish my last semester competing for the Georgetown Hoyas. While on campus, I was president of GlobeMed and Public Health Brigades. Both clubs focus on improving the health of those living in poverty and increasing health equality in developing countries. However, both clubs go about this mission with different methods, so it has been a great experience leading both clubs. Additionally, I was a project manager with Georgetown Global Consulting, a student run non-profit that consults for microfinance institutions and NGOs around the world.

Question: What are you thinking about after Georgetown?

Hinson: After Georgetown, I intend on pursing a master’s degree from an international university. I am currently in the process of applying to multiple programs in England and Denmark, wanting to focus on medical microbiology or infectious disease control. Afterwards, I hope to return to United States to attend medical school and become a practicing physician, specializing in a field of infectious disease or emergency medicine.