Horrified by needless deaths of patients in the ER, medical student Eddy Uwoghiren began to question his motives in becoming a doctor. “In Nigeria,” he said, “talented young students took up medicine because of parental expectation and wanting to be rich.”

But for Eddy, asking why Nigeria doesn’t have an ambulance system became a more important question. Following his experience at North America’s first Healthcare Leadership School (HLS), he’s committed his life to building trauma services in Nigeria, by becoming a trauma surgeon and also by advocating for improved services. “I will be a great journalist as well as a surgeon,” he proclaimed. We all believed him.

Medical student Carol Orioli, from Brazil, is appalled at the rates of stress and depression among her fellow medical students. A self-described “rebel,” she’s wondering how she can tackle the harsh attitudes of her professors and teachers. How can her medical school adopt compassion and caring as the core values in teaching? Fellow students and teachers stepped up to be her supporters and mentors in this quest.

Kentucky medical graduate Ashwin Raghavan is about to start his residency in Urology.  With his own experience of chronic health problems, he was determined to find an area of medicine he could call his own. Until the Health Leaders School he felt confused. Now he emerges with great clarity and purpose: He will dedicate himself to the neglected area of men’s health.

These are just a few of the HLS participants drawn together at the 2017 HLS held June 10-18 in a rural setting an hour from Louisville.  Health professionals from Africa, South America, Jordan, Israel, Tunisia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the USA gathered for an intensive six-day immersion program that explored topics as diverse as “Who am I?,” “What is the nature of the mind-body connection and holistic health?,” “Where does compassion and spirituality fit in?” and “Making a change’.”

The school was founded by a group of inspiring medical student leaders in the Netherlands – Humans in Health (humansofhealth.com). Witnessing healthcare in crisis and not willing to devote a lifetime to working in a broken system, they set about creating an international network of young health leaders with a powerful mission – To bring healthcare back to its core: to truly care for health. Drawing participants from all around the world, HLS has also been hosted in Portugal and South Africa.

The 2017 HLS was hosted by the Healthcare Constellation of Compassionate Louisville. Eminent teachers gave their time for free. Sponsorships from the University of Louisville School of Medicine, the Kentucky Medical Association, ChooseWell, Passport Health plan and WellCare helped to offset the expenses of international students with financial need.

For Kentucky participants it was an opportunity to frame health issues in a global context while building leadership and collaborative skills that will equip our community’s healthcare team of the future. As a teacher on the program, I found myself awestruck by the talent and determination of these young leaders. I feel certain that every single participant will go on to lead amazing change in their health system.