August 15, 2023

‘Even after a few months, their impact has been tremendous’: Fulbright helps faculty launch pediatric cardiology fellowship in Rwanda

A faculty member’s yearlong Fulbright experience has wrapped up, but the training collaborations David Bradley launched with colleagues at the University of Rwanda are just getting started.

Dr. Bradley and the fellows in the OR
Dr. David Bradley in the OR with the first two trainees in Rwanda's new pediatric cardiology fellowship program.

The Professor of Pediatrics returned to Ann Arbor in June after spending 10 months in Kigali, working with partners to establish the country’s first-ever pediatric cardiology fellowship.

The new program is well underway, with the inaugural fellows now nearly a year into their anticipated three-year program. They will be the first such specialists trained in Rwanda, and are set to join only two other working pediatric cardiologists in the nation.

“It has been a great experience working with these fellows, both of whom are already on their way to becoming highly skilled specialists,” Bradley said. “I am grateful to them, and to my U-M colleagues who supported me and afforded me the time away to pursue this project. I can’t thank them enough.”

Bradley’s visit in Rwanda was supported by a U.S. Fulbright Scholar program, which supports hundreds of scholars each year on extended projects around the world. The competition for 2024-25 awards is now open through Sept. 15, 2023.

In addition to his work mentoring the two new fellows, Bradley was able to lay the groundwork for other collaborations at University Teaching Hospital in Kigali—known locally as Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Kigali, or CHU-K. A U-M medical student has already visited there to explore potential opportunities for future research collaborations with resident physicians in Rwanda.

One of Bradley’s primary collaborators at CHU-K, Dr. Emmanuel Rusingiza, is expected to visit Michigan Medicine this fall to observe in the Pediatrics Department, as is one of the two program fellows. In addition, two Michigan Medicine senior fellows traveled to Kigali in March to work with Dr. Bradley and their Rwandan counterparts for two weeks.

“They did teaching sessions and demonstrated to everyone that fellows can teach other fellows, which is an important aspect of the program moving forward. That was huge and left a real impression on both sides,” Bradley said. “We have other fellows in Ann Arbor who I know would love to have a similar experience and there are tentative plans to do it again.”

Meanwhile, the team at CHUK has recruited a new faculty member to run the day-to-day now that Bradley is no longer in the country. The search for the next cohort of trainees is underway, and the two current fellows are demonstrating their value in the clinic already.

“The thing I didn’t anticipate—and what was great to see—was the positive effect that they are already having on clinical care,” Bradley said. “It was common for a patient to wait a week to be seen by a cardiologist. But with the fellows there, they are likely to be seen much sooner because not everyone needs to be seen by an attending in every situation. Even after just a few months, their impact has been tremendous.”

Dr. Bradley with the two fellows, Providence Akingeneye (left) and Auréa Nyiraneza.