Background and objectives: Approximately 2,500 of all 1992 US medical school graduates took part in international health elective experiences as medical students. This study describes the international health courses offered by US medical schools to prepare students for their electives and compares the current course offerings to those available in 1990.
Methods: A mail survey of all 4-year US medical school deans was conducted. The survey requested information about key areas of international health education.
Results: Between 1990 and 1992, the number of international health courses offered increased 35%, and the number of students enrolled in these courses increased 58%. Most of the increases occurred in courses organized during the preclinical curriculum years of medical school. Most financial support for programs is from institutional sources, rather than from external funding.
Conclusions: Nationally, medical schools are increasing levels of formal training for students preparing for overseas health care experiences. Family medicine remains a leading academic department in the development and administration of international health courses. International health programs must receive strong institutional support to remain active and responsive to student needs.