A student at Case Western Reserve University's School of Medicine is a recipient of a Fulbright U.S. Student scholarship for the 2006-2007 academic year.
Lynne Tan, who recently completed her third year of medical school, will defer her studies for one year while using her Fulbright grant to study developmental delays in young children in United Nations Relief and Works Agency's Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan. Tan, who also won another award--a Language Studies Initiative Grant—will immerse herself in two months of intensive Arabic language training before beginning her work.
"I'm hoping to gather data on the utility of two particular screening tools in the refugee clinic setting as well as some preliminary baseline statistics on developmental delay among children ages [infant] to 3," Tan said. "I have chosen Jordan because of the population size of its refugees, its high rate of success with its immunization program, and the availability of special education programs within the camps. Currently, there are few validated screening tools for this setting and a need for more precise data regarding prevalence and incidence of cognitive and learning impairments among children. Studies show that despite regular clinic visits, as many as 70 percent of children with developmental or behavioral problems are missed by their primary care providers," she wrote for her Fulbright application.
The road to winning the Fulbright was a lengthy process that began in May 2005 when applications opened. She then spent six months putting her proposal together; consulted with her adviser, Karen Olness, a professor of medicine/pediatrics at the Case School of Medicine; brushed up on her Arabic; and interviewed with a panel at the university before submitting her materials. Last January, she received notice that she'd passed through the preliminary screening process. Applications were then sent to the host countries, which selected the desired candidates. "Four anxious months of waiting and I received my letter of acceptance," Tan said about learning of her award in April 2006.
She has wanted to work in this region for quite some time. "A major turning point in my life was my involvement with the Wadi el-Far’a Project, a cooperative project between Calvin College and Birzeit University, to assess and make recommendations for a watershed in the West Bank. My summers in Jordan and the West Bank were rich learning experiences," she explained. "I not only learned about the geology and environment of our study area, but also about the regional politics, life in the refugee camps, and the barriers to health faced by Palestinians living in both Jordan and the Occupied Territories. In my spare time, I also volunteered at the Palestine Hospital in Amman in order to learn more about healthcare in Jordan."
In Cleveland, Tan has worked with the Arab communities and refugee organizations, and she recently planned a week on refugee health geared towards promoting awareness and action among medical students. After finishing medical school, she plans to apply for residency programs in pediatrics or pediatric rehabilitation medicine, and eventually pursue a career focused on refugee health and community-based primary healthcare in the Middle East.
Tan is one of only about 1,200 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad for the 2006-2007 academic year through the Fulbright Student Program. Established in 1946, its purpose is to build mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the global community. Recipients of the awards are selected on the basis of academic achievement and demonstrated leadership in their fields.
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