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Medical Student in Global Health—Just One Part of a Larger Commitment

Scott, Jim MD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3182a705d1

Across U.S. medical schools, the interest in global health is rapidly growing. Medical schools are challenged by the sheer numbers of students requesting or independently arranging educational experiences in the developing world. The logistics, legalities, and ethical issues have led to the development of a variety of models that enable student participation in safe and educationally enriching experiences. A major challenge is providing for the educational needs of the students within the medical and cultural environment of the host country without being culturally insensitive or disruptive. While not all of these programs will be successful, some models, like those described in this issue of Academic Medicine, are instructive. The educational experience of the U.S. medical students should not be the only measured outcome however. In exchange for the educational opportunities provided to medical students, U.S. medical schools should commit to sustained involvement in these countries, ensuring a meaningful experience for students and value added to the host countries.

Dr. Scott is professor of emergency medicine and health policy and former dean, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC.

Funding/Support: Dr. Scott receives funding from the Medical Education Partnership Initiative, funded by the National Institutes of Health and Health Resources and Service Administration (

Other disclosures: Dr. Scott serves as senior academic advisor to the Global Health Service Partnership of the Peace Corps and Seed Global Health.

Ethical approval: Not applicable.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Scott, Department of Emergency Medicine, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, 2120 L St., NW, Suite 450, Washington, DC 20037; telephone: (202) 994-7936; e-mail:

© 2013 by the Association of American Medical Colleges