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Health Education Consortium is an international organization
dedicated to promoting education and careers in global health. Many
medical schools participate, and if yours does, students can
register for a free individual account. Membership in the GHEC will
place you on their international listserve, where other GHEC
members regularly post announcements about job, residency, and
student education opportunities from all over the world.
For those considering long-term international work, the GHEC has
compiled plenty of resources to help figure out what's right for
you. Click the Resources
tab to find articles with advice for students on starting
international research projects, how to behave on overseas
rotations, what to expect out of your travel experience, and much
more. The online teaching modules about working and visiting in
low-resource countries are also helpful, specifically modules 4, 5,
7, 93, and 108.
Absolutely! Several residency programs in internal medicine as
well as other specialties have created global health tracks.
Generally, prospective students must first be admitted to the
residency program offering a global health track and then apply for
the track itself at a later point during the first year of
Global health tracks vary as much as the residency programs that
offer them. However, core components include special lectures and
small group discussions, field experience, and a thesis/capstone
project. Many programs also include a component of service to the
less fortunate in the community around the home hospital,
recognizing that disparities in healthcare do not only exist
internationally. Because of the need to balance international
experience with education at the home hospital, overseas time is
limited to three months per internal medicine residency (this is an
ACGME regulation). Some schools extend residency by one year to
allow for additional field time or for students to earn an MPH.
For more specifics about residency programs with global health
foci, look at the
Global Health Education Consortium's Residency Guidebook. Pages
36-78 offer detailed information on selected residency programs.
Plans are in the works to profile additional programs; stay tuned
for further developments!
Admissions directors are looking for students with a strong
passion for global health and serving underserved communities,
particularly those who wish to incorporate this passion into their
careers. Previous experience working with the underserved
domestically or internationally is preferred but not required. A
working knowledge of major global health issues would also be a
benefit. However, if you've never left the country but want to give
global health a try, there are plenty of programs which offer
international rotations to all residents.
There are numerous organizations that are willing to take
medical students for clinical experience. Programs are offered for
both preclinical and clinical students and can last from one week
to two years. Most require you to pay your own expenses and
sometimes a program fee (the combination can turn out to be several
thousand dollars). In return, the host organization will arrange
your food, lodging, clinical rotations, and weekend trips to
explore your surroundings.
The most exhaustive list of international opportunities for
medical students can be found here: http://www.imva.org/Pages/orgdb/wblstfrm.htm.
The website is unabashedly outdated, but most of the listed
organizations still exist. Once you find a promising program, you
can Google the name to reach its current website. A more recently
updated, albeit less extensive, website is maintained by the
University of Massachusetts School of Medicine: http://library.umassmed.edu/ihoc/index.cfm.
Another option for a global health rotation is to connect with
physicians at your medical school who are active internationally.
Although hard to reach because they are often out of the country,
working with someone from your school will eliminate the program
costs of going through an established volunteer organization.
My biggest piece of advice for arranging an international
rotation: start early. Established volunteer organizations will
have application deadlines, professors at your school will not
e-mail you back, and you will have exams. It might take months for
you to weave your way through numerous connections and web searches
to find the rotation of your dreams. However, once you finally
arrive, the experience is like none other.
Good luck and safe travels!
Council of Student Members, Midwestern Region Representative
Washington University School of Medicine, 2012
Special thanks to Dr. Melvin Blanchard and Dr. Laila Saied
for contributing to this article.
January 2011 Issue of IMpact
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