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Dr. Wallace Practices the GSM Mission in the Republic of Moldova
As a Fulbright Scholar, Lorraine Wallace, PhD, Associate Professor, Family Medicine, immersed herself in a foreign culture, learning the effects of a healthcare system that has been based on reactive medicine and teaching its physicians ways to practice preventive health care. From August 2009 through January 2010, Dr. Wallace, with her husband Will Wallace, Compliance Officer, Dean's Office, and their daughter Muriel, lived in Moldova, a country located between Romania and Ukraine that was once part of the Soviet Union.
Dr. Wallace said the atmosphere in Moldova is best expressed by a billboard (shown right) that says, "Towards Europe, Towards a Decent Future." She explained that even though the Republic of Moldova became an independent state in 1991, the country is still rebuilding its economy and wants to westernize its culture, including the incorporation of more community health education.
"The experience was eye-opening," Dr. Wallace said. "I got to see another culture with another standard of care. The Soviet Union was hospital–based, so people only got treatment if they were sick. They didn't practice preventive care. After the collapse of the former Soviet Union, they were left with a subpar health system. The patient rooms and ambulances are not well-equipped."
As part of the Fulbright Program, Dr. Wallace taught classes in the Master Public Health program in community health and biostatistics. She also assisted practicing physicians in translating their master's theses from Romanian to English to help students publish their results in international journals. Dr. Wallace said there was not much of a language barrier because most people in Moldova younger than 40 years old speak English to some degree.
Dr. Wallace also completed two research studies in Moldova. Through her research, "Female Family Physicians' Scope of Practice and Personal Experiences in the Republic of Moldova," she discovered that 75 percent of family medicine practitioners are female, and while they find their work rewarding, they are limited through system-related factors and need to increase public health knowledge.
In another project, "Romanian or Russian: The Influence of Language on Knowledge and Attitudes towards Tuberculosis among Moldovan Adults," Dr. Wallace found that novel approaches are necessary to provide Moldovan adults with accurate, understandable messages in both languages to prevent the spread of this disease, which is an excessive public health concern throughout the region.
In addition to teaching and research, Dr. Wallace provided service work to the U.S. Embassy's English Language Center and the Peace Corps. For the Peace Corps, she trained volunteers on ways to promote health behavior changes in the communities where they lived.
Upon returning home, Dr. Wallace is staying connected to the Moldovan community. She has written some grants to work with physicians on community health projects, including tuberculosis and asthma management for children. She hopes to return to Moldova for a short period in 2011 under the Fulbright Program and also hopes that faculty she met there will apply for a Fulbright Scholarship to work in the U.S.
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University of Tennessee