Objective: To examine the educational benefits of international elective rotations during graduate medical education.
Participants and methods: We studied Mayo International Health Program (MIHP) participants from April 1, 2001, through July 31, 2008. Data from the 162 resident postrotation reports were reviewed and used to quantitatively and qualitatively analyze MIHP elective experiences. Qualitative analysis of the narrative data was performed using NVivo7 (QRS International, Melbourne, Australia), a qualitative research program, and passages were coded and analyzed for trends and themes.
Results: During the study period, 162 residents representing 20 different specialties were awarded scholarships through the MIHP. Residents rotated in 43 countries, serving over 40,000 patients worldwide. Their reports indicated multiple educational and personal benefits, including gaining experience with a wide variety of pathology, learning to work with limited resources, developing clinical and surgical skills, participating in resident education, and experiencing new peoples and cultures.
Conclusion: The MIHP provides the structure and funding to enable residents from a variety of specialties to participate in international electives and obtain an identifiable set of unique, valuable educational experiences likely to shape them into better physicians. Such international health electives should be encouraged in graduate medical education.