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Shaping Healthcare in Brazil-Professor Shares Insights

January 17, 2007

Professor Sheila McNamee, Department of Communication, was one of two faculty members CIE named as a recipient of a $2,000 Faculty International Engagement Award funded by the VPAA for 2006-07.

Last fall, Sheila worked with colleagues in Brazil to develop a collaborative education program for training health care profession. A summary of her activities follows.

In my work in Brazil, I am engaged with a wide range of colleagues from the University of Sao Paulo, the University of Sao Paulo in Ribeirao Preto, the Federal University of Uberlandia, and the University of Barao de Maua. 

During my trip to Brazil we collaborated in offering an interdisciplinary seminar, “Healthcare as a Process of Social Construction.”  Those attending this seminar included faculty and graduate students in medicine (all specialties), nursing, psychology, and social work, as well as professionals working in the healthcare field. 

This seminar served as the foundation for a larger collaborative project that is currently under review for funding by the government of Brazil.  That project is entitled, “Rethinking public health practices: dialogue, collaboration and teamwork.” 

Our work together is focused on addressing how we can train professionals to become “experts” in health care delivery while simultaneously placing significant emphasis on communication within professional-patient relationships.  There is an urgent need to return primary health care to a basic focus on communicating with others.  And thus, this is the focus of our growing collaboration.

The Brazilian National Health System has recently issued a new set of guidelines and visions.  They encompass a set of assumptions that require collaborative/dialogic work. The goals of the health system indicate relationally sensitive, collaborative work as a necessity for the future.

However, despite this preference for relational approaches, the national health system focuses its attention on the training of technical skills of health professionals.  Research, theory, and practice designed to implement a truly collaborative system of health care is the focus of this project and is designed to supplement the technical knowledge needed by healthcare professionals. 

We are working with several research groups in Brazil that can usefully inform the Brazilian government's agenda for collaborative, community-centered health care.  Our collaboration is an attempt to expand the network of education and practice that meets the national health care initiative of community-based collaborative heath care.

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