Worldwide increases in global migration and trade have been making communicable diseases a concern throughout the world and have highlighted the connections in health and medicine among and between continents. Physicians in developed countries are now expected to have a broader knowledge of tropical disease and newly emerging infections, while being culturally sensitive to the increasing number of international travelers and ethnic minority populations. Exposing medical students to these global health issues encourages students to enter primary care medicine, obtain public health degrees, and practice medicine among the poor and ethnic minorities. In addition, medical students who have completed an international clinical rotation often report a greater ability to recognize disease presentations, more comprehensive physical exam skills with less reliance on expensive imaging, and greater cultural sensitivity. American medical students have become increasingly more interested and active in global health, but medical schools have been slow to respond. The authors review the evidence supporting the benefits of promoting more global health teaching and opportunities among medical students. Finally, the authors suggest several steps that medical schools can take to meet the growing global health interest of medical students, which will make them better physicians and strengthen our medical system.
Mr. Drain is a medical student and National Institutes of Health Fogarty/Ellison Clinical Research Fellow, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington.
Dr. Holmes is professor, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington.
Dr. Primack is program officer, Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
Dr. Gardner is senior advisor, Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
Dr. Hunt is vice dean of academic activities, Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Thunder Bay, Canada.
Dr. Fawzi is associate professor, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts.
Correspondence should be addressed to Mr. Drain, University of Washington School of Medicine, 1959 NE Pacific Ave, Box 356340, Seattle, WA 98195; telephone: (206) 306-3066; e-mail: (firstname.lastname@example.org).