A Q&A with Tshering Dukpa, Visiting Scholar from Bhutan

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  • Tshering Dukpa

    Tshering Dukpa of Bhutan is studying at the Yale School of Public Health as part of an ongoing partnership between the Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan and the School of Public Health.
    Photo credit: Michael Greenwood

  • Tshering Dukpa

    Photo credit: Michael Greenwood

Since 2012, The Bhutan Foundation has sponsored semester-long traineeships for Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan public health faculty at the Yale School of Public Health. In 2015, the partnership was formalized to provide ongoing collaboration between the two institutions. KGUMSB trainees take YSPH classes with the goal of expanding their teaching skills and working on independent research with Yale scientists. To date, five Bhutanese faculty members have completed semester-long traineeships. Tshering Dukpa, the most recent visiting scholar from Bhutan, is now studying at YSPH. “We are delighted that Tshering is spending the fall 2016 term with us at YSPH and excited about the continuation of our work in Bhutan,” said Kaveh Khoshnood, M.P.H. ’89, Ph.D. ’95, associate professor and director of the program.

You are a visiting scholar at the School of Public Health for the fall 2016 semester. What are you studying while here?

TD: I am attending a class on climate change and health. Besides that, most of my time is spent working on a research proposal I hope to conduct when I return home.

What has been the best part of your experience so far?

TD: I’m familiarizing myself with student life here, which is flexible and quite different from home. Also, getting exposed to different methods of teaching and learning has been a good experience. I appreciate that opportunities and resources, including faculty expertise that is available to me in abundance.

What has been the most challenging part of this experience?

TD: It’s been difficult for me to choose what I should study, because everything feels relevant and useful.

How will your experience at the Yale School of Public Health benefit your work in Bhutan once you return?

TD: I plan to adapt things I learn here and introduce them back at my home institute. For example, knowledge I gain from my climate change class will help me in developing similar modules at my institute. Similarly, the knowledge and skills I acquire from my mentors here will help me with public health-related research in the future.

Describe your background and the work you do in Bhutan.

TD: I have a master’s degree in International Health, and since 2007 I have been working as a lecturer in public health at Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan. My research experience is limited and one of my objectives while here is to enhance my knowledge and skills. My research interests are varied, including infectious disease, non-communicable diseases, health systems and climate change.

How did you become interested in public health?

I would definitely recommend this program to colleagues in Bhutan. It is great opportunity to develop one’s potential under the guidance and support of experienced faculty along with an abundance of resources.

Tshering Dukpa

TD: I’ve always gained satisfaction knowing that I am contributing to the improvement and protection of people’s health.

Describe the public health situation in Bhutan today. What are some of the biggest challenges?

TD: Bhutan has made huge progress in health since 1961, when the first developmental activities began. It has achieved most of its Millennium Development Goals, but there are still some goals that need to be accomplished under the Sustainable Developmnt Goals. Besides, Bhutan now faces new challenges. Traffic accidents and occupational safety are emerging concerns. These, together with the effects on health due to climate and environmental changes and frequent natural disasters, pose an increasing burden on people and the national health system.

Bhutan is addressing a number of vector-borne diseases. What is the situation with dengue in Bhutan?

TD: Dengue is an emerging disease in Bhutan. We are trying to control its occurrence, and are aiming for its elimination.

This is your first time in the United States. What are some of your impressions of our country?

TD: You have a well-developed infrastructure and transport system. People are busy but friendly and willing to help, if you ask. You can do whatever you like and nobody bothers you. Everything here seems to be in abundance, except time.

What are your impressions of Yale and the Yale School of Public Health?

TD: It has a lot of resources and facilities for learning and offers professional support in almost every field. I am impressed with students’ willingness to take courses in schools other than the one in which they are enrolled.

Would you recommend this program to a colleague in Bhutan? Why?

I would definitely recommend this program to colleagues in Bhutan. It is great opportunity to develop one’s potential under the guidance and support of experienced faculty along with an abundance of resources. The program also provides opportunity to foster collaborative networks within and beyond the university.

What are some of the things you have done during your free time?

TD: Academics aside, during my free time I visit various places and events in and around Yale. I visit the gymnasium, museums and restaurants in the city. I also attend events organized by different student organizations, such as Asian American Students Alliance, South Asian Society at Yale and the Hindu Students Council.

To learn more about the partnership between Bhutan and Yale, visit medicine.yale.edu/lab/khoshnood/capacity/bhutan/ and bhutanfound.org/projects/addressing-public-health-needsaddressing-public-health-needs/.

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