Background: Despite evidence that international clinical electives can be educationally and professionally beneficial to both visiting and in-country trainees, these opportunities remain challenging for American residents to participate in abroad. Additionally, even when logistically possible, they are often poorly structured. The Universities of Washington (UW) and Nairobi (UoN) have enjoyed a long-standing research collaboration, which recently expanded into the UoN Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI). Based on MEPI in Kenya, the Clinical Education Partnership Initiative (CEPI) is a new educational exchange program between UoN and UW. CEPI allows UW residents to partner with Kenyan trainees in clinical care and teaching activities at Naivasha District Hospital (NDH), one of UoN's MEPI training sites in Kenya.
Methods: UW and UoN faculty collaborated to create a curriculum and structure for the program. A Chief Resident from the UW Department of Medicine coordinated the program at NDH. From August 2012 through April 2014, 32 UW participants from 5 medical specialties spent between 4 and 12 weeks working in NDH. In addition to clinical duties, all took part in formal and informal educational activities. Before and after their rotations, UW residents completed surveys evaluating clinical competencies and cross-cultural educational and research skills. Kenyan trainees also completed surveys after working with UW residents for three months.
Results: UW trainees reported a significant increase in exposure to various tropical and other diseases, an increased sense of self-reliance, particularly in a resource-limited setting, and an improved understanding of how social and cultural factors can affect health. Kenyan trainees reported both an increase in clinical skills and confidence, and an appreciation for learning a different approach to patient care and professionalism.
Conclusions: After participating in CEPI, both Kenyan and US trainees noted improvement in their clinical knowledge and skills and a broader understanding of what it means to be clinicians. Through structured partnerships between institutions, educational exchange that benefits both parties is possible.