Hypothesis: Surgical trainees in the United States have a growing interest in both clinical experiences and structured training opportunities in global health. Global health training and exposure can be integrated into a surgical residency program.
Design: The global health activities of surgical residents and faculty in 1 department were evaluated from January 1, 1998, to June 1, 2008, using a survey and personal interviews.
Results: From January 1, 1998, to December 31, 2002, 4 faculty members made more than 20 overseas volunteer medical expeditions, but only 1 resident participated in global health activities. In 2003, a relationship with a surgical training program in a developing country was established. Ten residents and 12 faculty members have made overseas trips during the last 5 years, and 1 international surgeon has visited the United States. During their research block, 4 residents completed 1- to 3-month clinical rotations and contributed to mentored research projects. Three residents completed a university-based Global Health Clinical Scholars Program, and 3 obtained master's degrees in public health. A joint conference in injury-trauma research was also conducted. A faculty member is based overseas with clinical and research responsibilities, and another is completing a master's degree in public health.
Conclusions: Global health training and exposure for residents can be effectively integrated into an academic surgical residency program through relationships with training programs in low-income countries. Legitimate academic experiences improve the success of these programs. Reciprocity with collaborative partners must be ensured, and sustained commitment and funding remain a great challenge to such programs. The long-term effect on the development of global health careers is yet to be determined.