Courtney Caiola

Caiola
The interdisciplinary aspect of Bass Connections provides a unique opportunity to learn from and collaborate with students and faculty from different disciplines while working toward innovative solutions to current global health issues.

Degree

Ph.D. in Nursing ’15

Project Team

I have lived in many places but have spent much of my adult life in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. My educational background is in anthropology, nursing and public health. During the past 15 years working as a maternal and child health nurse, I have had the privilege of serving women and children in both the domestic and global setting across the spectrum of their lifespans, from the birth center to the oncology unit, and I have a particular interest in global health.

I chose Duke because I knew I would receive excellent training in health research and also have the opportunity to collaborate with scholars from a variety of disciplines while working toward solutions aimed at decreasing health inequities.

My research interests stem from my clinical practice and are focused on the social determinants impacting the health of women and children living in poverty as well as the development of community-based health interventions and healthful public policy aimed at reducing the health disparities they experience. When I learned about the Bass Connections in Global Health teams, I realized it was precisely the kind of opportunity I needed to grow and learn as a student in order to do my future work.

image

The team I participated in was focused on identifying strategies to accelerate the introduction of Chlorhexidine for umbilical cord care for neonates in Bangladesh. Chlorhexidine is a low-cost, efficacious, feasible and safe intervention to reduce neonatal mortality.

The interdisciplinary aspect of Bass Connections provides a unique opportunity to learn from and collaborate with students and faculty from different disciplines while working toward innovative solutions to current global health issues. The knowledge base, methodological boundaries and paradigmatic approaches of different disciplines can vary significantly, providing a great environment for both innovation and personal growth.

The most rewarding aspect was the collaborative working environment we developed as a team and the interactions we had with various in-country stakeholders. I learned an immeasurable amount from both my Duke and Bangladeshi colleagues and was offered a much broader lens through which to view both the problem and potential solutions.  

I particularly enjoyed the dynamic we shared as graduate, undergraduate and faculty team members. During our weekly team meetings, there were opportunities both to mentor others and be mentored, which had little to do with any traditional hierarchical ranking of our educational status. Rather, we were able to exchange insights from our substantive areas of expertise.

For example, I learned things about the technical aspects of product development and packaging from the biomedical engineering undergraduate students, while I had the opportunity to explain some of the clinical aspects of neonatal health care to business professionals. It was enlightening, challenging and fun all at the same time!

Bass Connections is an ideal forum for interdisciplinary collaboration, skill building, knowledge acquisition, professional growth and developing innovative solutions—I highly encourage any graduate or undergraduate student to participate.