Chair of International Health

Promoting education and public interest in international health, conducting international health research related to Ukraine and Eastern Europe, supporting faculty members and students with an interest in international health—these are some of the activities undertaken by the Chair of International Health Research.

Since 2008, the Chair of International Health Research has worked on scholarly projects connected to international health, primarily in Ukraine and Eastern Europe. Created through an endowment from the Ukrainian Foundation for College and Education, which has a 25-year partnership with the university, the position is housed in the Faculty of Health and Community Studies and is managed by an advisory and steering committee that includes the URDC director.

Meet Dr. Elizabeth Burgess-Pinto

Dr. Elizabeth Burgess-Pinto

On July 1, 2020, Dr. Elizabeth Burgess-Pinto, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Nursing, was appointed Chair of International Health.

Dr. Burgess-Pinto's research interests include the health of immigrant and refugee children and families, international and intercultural nursing, and planetary health. She was national coordinator for the New Canadian Children and Youth Study, an interdisciplinary survey of the well-being of immigrant and refugee children and youth in six Canadian cities.

As Chair in International Health, Dr. Burgess-Pinto leads a project in partnership with Ternopil National Medical University (TNMU) in Ukraine and the Catholic University of the Maule in Chile that focuses on COVID-19. As well, she and her team are interested in exploring the perceptions surrounding nursing in Ukraine, a project that will be undertaken in partnership with MacEwan’s Faculty of Nursing and faculty members from TNMU.

Dr. Burgess-Pinto also collaborates within and outside of MacEwan on projects that support students to develop careers in health sciences. For example, she is partnering with TNMU to develop a qualitative research workshop for nursing faculty and students in Ukraine and Alberta. As well, she supports MacEwan’s Faculty of Nursing elective course, HLST 400: Global Health Perspectives. In the course, senior students spend a week at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv and two weeks in Ternopil at TNMU, developing their sense of collective responsibility for global health issues and gaining invaluable perspectives as health care professionals. This experience allows them to fully immerse themselves in the culture and language of Ukraine.

How it all began

In 1993, the Ukrainian Resource and Development Centre began organizing and participating in nursing faculty exchanges with Ternopil State Medical University in Ukraine. In 2008, building upon the success of the exchange program, URDC, together with the Faculty of Health and Community Studies, decided to extend the program to other countries and to include MacEwan students.

A more extensive program required additional infrastructure and sustained funding. That’s where the Ukrainian Foundation for College Education stepped in, providing leadership, donating funds and approaching Edmonton philanthropists Drs. Peter and Doris Kule to contribute to the project. The generous $100,000 donations of UFCE and the Kules were “double-matched” by the MacEwan University Foundation, establishing a $600,000 endowment for the Chair of International Health in 2009.

Nursing students “travel” to Ukraine
When they couldn’t make the trip to Ukraine due to pandemic-related travel restrictions, faculty at two universities brought nursing students together virtually.
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