Surgical training and global health: initial results of a 5-year partnership with a surgical training program in a low-income country

Arch Surg. 2008 Sep;143(9):860-5; discussion 865. doi: 10.1001/archsurg.143.9.860.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Global Health*
  • Humans
  • International Educational Exchange*
  • Internship and Residency / organization & administration*
  • San Francisco
  • Schools, Medical / organization & administration
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative / statistics & numerical data
  • Uganda