Global health training starts at home: a unique US-based global health clinical elective for residents

Med Teach. 2012;34(6):e445-51. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2012.668636. Epub 2012 Mar 21.


Background: Many physicians planning to work in global health lack adequate formal training. Globalized cities create opportunities to integrate global health training into residency programs, preparing clinicians for less supported experiences abroad.

Aim: To develop a clinical elective to advance residents' knowledge and skills in global health and fieldwork abroad.

Methods: Two-week comprehensive elective was offered to PGY2 combined medicine-pediatrics residents. We incorporated clinical exposures and global health topics. Global health experts were involved as teachers and preceptors. Clinical exposure included: tropical medicine with laboratory sessions; travel medicine; tuberculosis; immigrant and continuity; and human rights clinics. Didactic components and supplemental readings included socio-political issues, global public health, and health challenges of populations from developing regions. We assessed resident satisfaction using questionnaires and focus groups.

Results: Residents reported usefulness and relevance of sessions and topics as (4) very good (scale: (1) poor to (5) excellent), and quality of sessions and teaching as very good to excellent (4.2). Residents' baseline knowledge and understanding of global health issues improved by around 50%.

Conclusion: Our experience supports the feasibility and usefulness of clinical and didactic training in global health issues at home. A multidisciplinary approach, collaboration with academic and non-academic institutions, experienced faculty, and departmental commitment are vital.

MeSH terms

  • Cultural Competency / education
  • Global Health / education*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Human Rights / education
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Medicine / education
  • Internship and Residency / organization & administration*
  • Travel Medicine / education
  • Tropical Medicine / education
  • United States