Global Health Training and International Clinical Rotations During Residency: Current Status, Needs, and Opportunities

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Abstract

Increasing international travel and migration have contributed to globalization of diseases. Physicians today must understand the global burden and epidemiology of diseases, the disparities and inequities in global health systems, and the importance of cross-cultural sensitivity. To meet these needs, resident physicians across all specialties have expressed growing interest in global health training and international clinical rotations. More residents are acquiring international experience, despite inadequate guidance and support from most accreditation organizations and residency programs. Surveys of global health training, including international clinical rotations, highlight the benefits of global health training as well as the need for a more coordinated approach. In particular, international rotations broaden a resident’s medical knowledge, reinforce physical examination skills, and encourage practicing medicine among underserved and multicultural populations. As residents recognize these personal and professional benefits, a strong majority of them seek to gain international clinical experience. In conclusion, with feasible and appropriate administrative steps, all residents can receive global health training and be afforded the accreditation and programmatic support to participate in safe international rotations. The next steps should address accreditation for international rotations and allowance for training away from continuity clinics by residency accreditation bodies, and stipend and travel support for six or more weeks of call-free elective time from residency programs.

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