Academic Medicine

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Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181f04689
Global Health Education

International Crises and Global Health Electives: Lessons for Faculty and Institutions

Steiner, Beat D. MD, MPH; Carlough, Martha MD, MPH; Dent, Georgette MD; Peña, Rodolfo MD, DrPH; Morgan, Douglas R. MD, MPH

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Abstract

Student participation in global health electives and community service initiatives is associated with a number of favorable outcomes, and student interest in participating in such experiences is high. Increasingly, medical schools are facilitating and supervising global health opportunities. The inherent risks and uncertainties of global community service deserve careful consideration as schools engage more actively in this area. This article presents how one institution managed three crises in three electives in a single year. The H1N1 flu epidemic impacted a group of students bound for Mexico, a political upheaval affected a student group working in Honduras, and a hurricane threatened a student group in Nicaragua. This article outlines lessons learned from responding to these crises. Well-defined institutional travel policies, clear communication plans in the event of an emergency, a responsible administrative entity for global experiences, and formal predeparture training for students and faculty can help institutions better respond to unpredictable events. A comprehensive examination of these lessons and reflections on how to institutionalize the various components may help other institutions prepare for such events and lessen negative impact on student learning.

© 2010 Association of American Medical Colleges

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