Jenny (Jingwei) Li

Witnessing the teamwork required for a project’s implementation and continuation from an inside perspective was inspiring.


Global Health and Sociology ’16

Project Team

For most of my life, I have resided in Hershey “Chocolate Town,” Pennsylvania, with my parents and various pets. I was drawn to Duke because of the incredible opportunities for student research, engaging in local and global communities and forming deep relationships within a truly diverse student body.

Although it took me two painful years to realize that I probably am not cut out for a career in medicine, I maintained an intense interest in global health—particularly in medical anthropology. I became involved in this Bass Connections team through the Student Research Training (SRT) program offered by the Duke Global Health Institute.

In September 2014, a distance-based education program for Ghanaian nurse anesthetists pursuing an advanced degree was launched by a partnership between this Bass Connections project and the University for Development Studies in Tamale, Ghana. After a year of project implementation, the team offered an amazing opportunity for global health undergraduate students, through SRT, to evaluate the impact on hospitals and communities, participants’ experiences and other educational outcomes.image

I chose to apply to this project because of my passion for education (I teach a house course on HIV/AIDS, tutor writing students, and have served as a TA for two global health courses), my experience in documenting stories (I have been directing video production teams for the Duke Global Health Humanities working group) and my growing interest in the potential e-learning has in strengthening health systems through building workforce capacity.

Witnessing the teamwork required for a project’s implementation and continuation from an inside perspective was inspiring. Collaborators from nursing, anesthesiology, global health and computer science were all involved in this Bass Connections team, and each person was integral to the success of our summer research project. Everyone was also so kind and encouraging. As a highly self-reliant and determined individual, I often convince myself that I can handle everything best on my own, or that I just need to develop every possible skill set. Through my Bass Connections experience, I have learned to deeply appreciate others’ talents and contributions and have also developed a better understanding of the necessity of working together with others on multifaceted projects.


Currently, I am working on a global health honors thesis as a continuation of my summer research. It is a privilege to have both Dr. Sumi Ariely and Dr. Brett Morgan serving as my thesis advisors. Some of my main research aims are describing the role of anesthesia delivery within a health systems context, comparing Ghana’s approach in developing the nurse anesthetist profession with other national approaches to address national crises in staffing of anesthesia providers and exploring e-learning and distance-based education as a strategy for promoting health workforce sustainability. I hope to discuss possible solutions to existing challenges in this educational platform, as well as the applicability of distance-based education in other contexts and in the future.

imageI also had the opportunity to lead our documentary projects on the ground. I will be producing a photo-essay, “Will to Serve,” through which I hope to convey the anesthetists’ devotion to serving their communities. Furthermore, I will be creating more short- to medium-length documentaries with focused themes that explore various healthcare issues in Ghana and describe the critical role of the nurse anesthetist. These pieces will be presented alongside my academic writing. My greatest hope is that what I produce this year can be given back to the people and communities we visited and be useful to them. Everything that I have collected, especially the video footage, belongs not to me but to the participants in the videos who so graciously gifted us with their time and insights.

See four of Jenny’s videos (Duke SRT Student PerspectiveStudent 1 Interview ExcerptStudent 2 Interview ExcerptMixed Interviews Clip) and her poster with Samantha Zepeda (Evaluation of a Distance-based Education Program for Ghanaian Nurse Anesthetists: Clinical Capacity)