Virtual global health in graduate medical education: a systematic review

Int J Med Educ. 2022 Aug 31;13:230-248. doi: 10.5116/ijme.62eb.94fa.

Abstract

Objectives: To synthesize recent virtual global health education activities for graduate medical trainees, document gaps in the literature, suggest future study, and inform best practice recommendations for global health educators.

Methods: We systematically reviewed articles published on virtual global health education activities from 2012-2021 by searching MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, ERIC, Scopus, Web of Science, and ProQuest Dissertations & Theses A&I. We performed bibliography review and search of conference and organization websites. We included articles about primarily virtual activities targeting for health professional trainees. We collected and qualitatively analyzed descriptive data about activity type, evaluation, audience, and drivers or barriers. Heterogeneity of included articles did not lend to formal quality evaluation.

Results: Forty articles describing 69 virtual activities met inclusion criteria. 55% of countries hosting activities were high-income countries. Most activities targeted students (57%), with the majority (53%) targeting trainees in both low- to middle- and high-income settings. Common activity drivers were course content, organization, peer interactions, and online flexibility. Common challenges included student engagement, technology, the internet, time zones, and scheduling. Articles reported unanticipated benefits of activities, including wide reach; real-world impact; improved partnerships; and identification of global health practice gaps.

Conclusions: This is the first review to synthesize virtual global health education activities for graduate medical trainees. Our review identified important drivers and challenges to these activities, the need for future study on activity preferences, and considerations for learners and educators in low- to middle-income countries. These findings may guide global health educators in their planning and implementation of virtual activities.

Keywords: education; global health; graduate medical education; pandemic; virtual.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Education, Medical, Graduate*
  • Global Health*
  • Health Personnel / education
  • Humans
  • Students