Unite For Sight Global Impact Fellow Inspired To Teach Course About “Ethics of Volunteering in Healthcare”

After spending 10 days in Orissa, India in the winter of 2009 as a Unite For Sight Global Impact Fellow, Larry Cai returned to University of California, Berkeley inspired to share his experience working abroad with other students. “There are so many volunteer programs here at Berkeley,” he said. “It’s important to know what you are getting into and how to effectively help the underserved.” Larry approached David Winickoff, Assistant Professor of Bioethics and Society at UC Berkeley’s School of Environmental Policy and Management, with the idea of designing a course examining the importance of ethical volunteering abroad, especially in the field of healthcare.  “Many people here (at Berkeley) are interested in working abroad,” said Larry. “I just kept thinking as I read the Unite For Sight online training materials before my program in India that these courses and the articles referenced in the footnotes would make great reading for a class.”

Through UC Berkeley’s unique "Democratic Education at Cal" program, or Decal, students are able to create, design, and implement their own courses on a variety of topics that are not addressed in traditional university curriculum.  Students write a course proposal, find a faculty advisor, and design an application process to ensure that those admitted into the course will be dedicated and come to class ready to debate, discuss, and delve into a new subject.  Larry’s course, titled “Ethics of Volunteering in Healthcare” was received enthusiastically by Berkeley undergraduates, and all thirty openings were quickly filled. “We have about ten public health majors, ten global poverty and practice minors, and an assortment of integrated biology, pre-med, and engineering students," said Larry. He plans to focus the class on the courses and materials in Unite For Sight's Global Impact Training, which each Unite For Sight volunteer is required to complete before participating abroad. The "Ethics of Volunteering in Healthcare" course will meet Monday evenings throughout the semester and will focus its discussions around the question “How can you be a socially responsible, effective and ethical healthcare volunteer in a developing country?”  The class will encourage active student participation throughout the semester by assigning articles pertinent to pressing global health issues to small groups of 2-3 students, who will subsequently present their findings to the rest of the class.

As a 4th year molecular toxicology major, Larry is in the process of applying to joint PhD/MD programs that will enable him to combine his passion for research with the ability to serve communities’ medical needs as a physician. Unite For Sight, he says, has influenced him to see how he can also incorporate global health into his future career.