Background: Medical students have an increasing desire to learn about the global context of health. Most UK medical schools do not include global health (GH) in their core curriculum, but do allow an elective period overseas.
Context: Some UK medical schools offer an optional attachment in GH or, in some cases, an intercalated degree. All students at Newcastle University complete three student-selected components (SSCs), each lasting 6 weeks in their fourth year. In 2006, one NU medical student requested to study GH. From this request, an SSC in GH was established.
Innovation: Each year the SC is open to 10 students. The timetable includes lectures from clinicians, nurses and other professionals with experience of developing countries. Weekly topics cover major themes of GH, such as war and conflict, and water supply. Students pick a project to present to their peers at the end of each week. A debate is held on two major current issues in GH. Students from the past SSC present their elective experiences. Clinical components include: infectious diseases clinics, a general practice (GP) surgery with a large number of asylum seekers and refugees, and obstetrics and gynaecology clinics with doctors who have practised abroad.
Implications: GH teaching prior to going on elective is important to set the scene for students who will never have worked in such settings before. Feeding back experiences to future years helps to consolidate key learning objectives from the SSC. By listening to the needs of medical students we have now secured a core GH session within the curriculum.
© Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2010.