Howard Center’s Chief Medical Officer Returns from Volunteer Trip to Rwanda

BURLINGTON, VT —Howard Center proudly announces the return of its Chief Medical Officer, Simha Ravven, M.D. from a transformative volunteer opportunity in Rwanda. In collaboration with Partners in Health, a Harvard University affiliated organization that collaborates with national governments to provide care and strengthen public health systems, Dr. Ravven spent two weeks working with Rwandan Medical Students at the University of Global Health Equity in Kigali and Butaro, Rwanda.

During this period, Dr. Ravven engaged with fourth-year students in the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) program, who are about a year and a half away from beginning their careers as general practitioners in Rwandan communities. A significant aspect of Dr. Ravven’s work involved the psychiatry core clerkship, where she helped these future doctors refine their clinical skills, with a focus on empathetic patient interviewing as a crucial component of effective mental health care.

Dr. Ravven’s experience spanned various clinical settings, including patient consultations at Ndera Hospital, Kigali’s state neuropsychiatric hospital, and community health sites in Butaro, a rural area near the Ugandan border. This included work at the Butaro Hospital’s Cancer Center and Labor and Delivery Service.

Reflecting on the similarities between mental health challenges faced by individuals in Rwanda and those in Chittenden County, Dr. Ravven identified common threads in the human experience of psychiatric illness, underscoring the universality of mental health struggles. This insight reinforces Howard Center’s approach to mental health care, emphasizing empathy, dedication, and a patient-centered approach.

“My experience in Rwanda was not only a journey educating the next generation of global healthcare leaders, but also a profound lesson in the power of empathy and shared human experiences,” said Ravven. “Working with the Rwandan medical students, I was struck by our common goal. This mission

reinforced my belief in the universal nature of human experience and the impact of culturally sensitive, empathetic approaches in addressing them.

Bob Bick, CEO of Howard Center, added, “Dr. Ravven’s volunteer work in Rwanda exemplifies Howard Center’s commitment to global mental health education and the exchange of innovative practices. Her insights from this experience are invaluable, shedding light on the commonalities in mental health care across diverse cultures.”

Dr. Ravven’s experience in Rwanda also highlighted potential innovations and strategies in mental health care that could be beneficial both in Rwanda and for Howard Center’s programs in Chittenden County.

Upon returning, Dr. Ravven expressed gratitude for the opportunity and for the work her colleagues at Howard Center do to support local communities. This mission underscores Howard Center’s commitment to global health education and the exchange of knowledge across borders, strengthening mental health care both locally and internationally.

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