Educational Innovation and Experiences

Anvarali Velji hosted this engaging series of presentations on ways various groups have approached global health training.

Richard Dunning started things off by presenting the results of a web-based survey used to poll trainees in medicine, public health, and nursing programs at four US universities (Johns Hopkins, UCSF, University of Pennsylvania, and the UW). The survey disclosed a high level of interest in global health, yet also identified barriers for participation in international experiences. Among the 2,090 respondents, 76% had already had an international experience, most of which had been in developing countries, and over half expressed an interest in a global health career. The importance of international experiences was highlighted by the fact that 61% attributed their interest in global health to a prior international experience. By extrapolating the data, it was estimated that at least 10% of all health sciences trainees are interested in global health, although time pressure, lack of funding, and uncertainties around how to arrange international opportunities were key barriers to participating in global health experiences.

Patricia Conrad presented an overview of the EnviroVet Summer Institute. This innovative 7-week program that represents a collaboration between UC Davis, the University of Illinois, Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania, Florida Atlantic University, White Oak Conservation Center, and Tanzania’s National Parks. The institute is part of the One Health movement, which promotes an understanding of the linkages between human, animal, and environmental health. The field-based training uses a trans-disciplinary approach to inspire veterinary students to become leaders in global health. As an example, she described a situation where a local river has been drying up in a rural part of Tanzania, leading to increasing contact of humans, livestock, and wildlife as they compete for the remaining water sources. This situation has created increased potential for the spread of zoonotic diseases, including Mycobacterium bovis, and participating students have worked with local researchers to seek solutions.

Donna Denno and Suzinne Pak-Gorstein presented work that has been done to create core competencies in global health education. Using the ACGME framework, a working group of medical educators developed the first set of guidelines proposing key knowledge, skills, and behaviors that should be central to the global health training of pediatric residents. These core competencies are now being used at several universities to create and assess learning plans for global health training. They were included in the 2008 GHEC Guidebook for Developing Residency Programs in Global Health (available at, and are currently being expanded to apply to additional residencies.

Maneesh Batra described the University of Washington’s efforts to create a sustainable and ethical international experience for pediatric residents interested in global child health. The program includes a month of didactic training, followed by an eight-week field experience during the third year of residency. The program pairs UW residents with residents from the University of Nairobi, and is focused on addressing health inequities through community health development, rather than by providing direct clinical care. Feedback from participants has been very positive, and Dr. Batra feels that this program provides a model for how a short-term global health experience can be structured to benefit both US trainees and developing country partners.

Gabrielle O’Malley discussed a collaborative effort between the University of Washington and the University of Namibia to strengthen training for MPH students. She highlighted the importance of relationship-building in ensuring programmatic success, particularly fostering mutual trust and respect and promoting good communication. She also discussed the use of distance-learning techniques as one way to address the educational challenges faced by countries with sparse and widespread populations.

The final speaker, Julie Maslowsky, described the process through which the University of Michigan developed a set of pearls to guide students engaging in international research and service-learning activities. A multidisciplinary task force, including 40 students, worked for eight months to create a resource that would be useful before, during, and after an international experience. The resulting guidelines, the Student Handbook on Global Engagement, can be accessed online at this link:

During the question and answer session, the importance of mentor training, program sustainability, and defining and measuring program outcomes were discussed.

Prepared by David Roesel


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