As globalization continues and health issues affecting countries and parts of the world become increasingly interconnected, so does the interest in global health and welfare. Local health is tied to global health now more than ever, and trained medical professionals are needed in all parts of the world. There are several US university medical schools that have responded to the interest in and need for global health programs by creating innovative programs to address global health concerns.
Following, are 20 leading medical school programs for global health and welfare. These programs are offered at well-respected medical colleges as options for MD students to specialize in their larger doctoral degree. This gives students the opportunity to study, research, and perform clinical rotations within domestic health as well as and international health. The programs were chosen based on their unique and comprehensive approaches to global health and welfare.
The Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health trains students to evaluate the medical, social, and systemic root causes of disease and how to intervene in low-resource settings. Students are able to participate in international courses and clinical rotations. There are also related student groups and activities such as the Global Health Alliance and the Global Health Case Competition.
“My involvement with the Vanderbilt Institute of Global Health (VIGH) has been nothing short of exciting. I will be spending this summer in Liberia, working with a Liberian nurse anesthetist to better understand the challenges in training anesthesiology providers in the country. My mentors at VIGH continue to go above and beyond to support my interests. It has been truly inspiring to learn from and alongside people who walk the walk of true global health partnership, and are equally committed to ensuring better health for humans around the world.” – Didi Odinkemelu, MD Candidate at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
Students at the John Hopkins Center for Global Health work in multidisciplinary research and action. Grants, workshops, scholarships, and experiential learning opportunities allow for diversified global experience all over the world. This year’s Global Health Field Research Award and Established Field Placement Award awarded student research travel grants to 54 students who will conduct research in over 20 countries.
The Duke University Global Health Study Program provides research opportunities to students at Duke’s international global health field sites through the Third Year Global Health Study Program. The program also connects students to faculty experts who focus on global health research initiatives. The Global Health Pathway Fellows program also allows students to conduct research and work in clinical rotations at international locations.
“My experience with the Global Health Pathway Fellows program was really rewarding. I spent a full year conducting clinical research in heart disease in Tanzania. Duke’s extensive global network and outstanding team of mentors made the experience extremely valuable, and I now feel fully prepared for pursuing a career in global health.” – Julian Hertz, graduate from the Duke Global Health Institute
Students and faculty at the Harvard Global Health Institute work with affiliated hospitals who are working in global health. The degree programs are interdisciplinary, adding the factors of design, law, policy, and business into this type of medicine study.
The UCSF Institute for Global Health Sciences focuses on disease in vulnerable populations, putting forth initiatives to eradicate tuberculosis and malaria in the next generation, improve birthing conditions in developing countries, and improve HIV/AIDS education among girls and young women in Kenya, Tanzania, and Zanzibar. Students fully take part in these initiatives and research after completing two years of coursework at the university. UCSF also has a student chapter of Doctors Without Borders.
The Northwestern University Center for Global Health is available to both graduate and undergraduate students, but MD students are able to choose an area of scholarly concentration in a specific area of global health. The center lists 18 international rotations and programs available for doctoral students.
“It’s hard for me to imagine a more clinically relevant curriculum. I think the Education Centered Medical Home and Individual Preceptor programs cater to each student so specifically and emphasize right away that your patient is your first priority.” – Tasmeen Hussain, Graduate from the Feinberg School of Medicine.
In addition to their classes, students on the GWU Global Health Track participate in an eight week “Experiential Opportunity” abroad during the summer after their first year, and during the third and fourth year, students complete a scholarly project related to global health international clinical elective or global health medical missions. These international projects can be completed at 26 different affiliated sites, as well as through non-affiliate schools and organizations for students planning their own internships.
The Emory Global Health Institute teaches global health courses on everything from war crimes and genocide to mental health in various populations. Students are also able to participate in global health case competitions, field projects, and a global health student photography contest from their time working abroad.
“I grew up the child of a nurse practitioner and physician-epidemiologist at CDC, but it was not until college that I developed my own independent interest in public health and medicine. After spending time working on community-based HIV treatment delivery projects in South Africa, I realized that I wanted to attend a medical school with a commitment to serving both their local community and the global community.” – Joey Sharp, recent graduate from Emory School of Medicine.
The Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine provides many global health and welfare courses. The school is affiliated with the Peace Corps and many students join the Peace Corps after graduation due to the specialties the school provides. The Global Scholars Program provides students with two monthly seminars, monthly service opportunities, and networking events.
The University of Washington’s Department of Global Health offers three main programs to medical students: the Global Health Pathway, where students complete coursework, service projects, and engage in international experiences, the Global Health Immersion Program, which is an “intensive, academically rigorous program for students who want to gain a first-hand understanding of the health challenges facing people in low- and middle-income countries,” and the Global Health Clinical Elective, which is a six week clinical elective.
“Global health inspired me to become a physician. GHIP provided me the opportunity to transform my inspiration into a practical skill set for my future career.” – Zhibing Zhou, a third-year medical student at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Zhou participated in the Global Health Immersion Program in 2018.
BU’s Global Health Program provides opportunities for clinical work and research, as well as cultural and language immersion experiences abroad as a fourth-year global health elective course. Immersion experiences are specifically targeted in underserved healthcare systems. Students are also able to set up this fourth-year global health elective by first participating in a three-part course, The Practitioner’s Guide to Global Health. BU also offers medical-specific language courses to prepare students to speak the medical language in a foreign language if they choose a site that requires fluent foreign language skills. Students are then able to identify the country and site for their elective course.
Medical students at Case Western Reserve University can utilize the Center for Global Health for on and off-campus study. Students take an introductory global health course, and can then specialize in their studies from there. Each year, 25 to 30 medical students travel internationally for study and research, mainly to developing countries. Travel fellowships are also available for medical students.
The Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health offers three main programs for medical students: a scholarly concentration in global health, the Mary Duke Diddle Scholarship Program, which sends pediatric trainees and clinical medical students abroad to provide care to children in low- and middle-income settings, and the Global Health Media Fellowship, which teaches physician students to use various media to inform the public on global health and welfare issues. Students can also participate in the Global Health Student Council and the Organization for Student Health.
The Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina is well known for their public health programs, but the Master of Public Health in Global Health degree program encompasses the Gillings School philosophy that “there is no difference between global health and public health.” Students learn to work with local to global health issues, and have opportunities to work with partners abroad. The Center for Galapagos Studies is one such partnership program for which students have access. The University of North Carolina also has a student chapter of Doctors Without Borders.
Coursework for students participating in the Global Health Certificate Program at the Mailman School of Public Health includes interdisciplinary work, training students to effectively provide public health care in a variety of socio-political and economic environments. Students learn both traditional international healthcare priorities as well as the addressing of recent issues. Practicum experiences overseas are also available for students to apply these concepts.
The University of Michigan Medical School’s Global REACH program provides opportunities abroad through clinical rotations at a partner institution or research work with a faculty mentor. There are also many scholarships and grants available for further international studies.
“It was the global health work and the Ghana connection that brought me to UMMS. It’s been my experience that if you’re passionate about something, people here will find a way to work with you in order to make it happen.” – Emma Lawrence, University of Michigan Medical School graduate. Lawrence traveled to Ghana three times as a medical student for research and clinical observation.
Students participating in the Global Health Specialty Area at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health will complete five to nine units of global health coursework, participate in global health community events, mentorship, and an internship before declaring a specialty. UC Berkeley also has a student chapter of Doctors Without Borders.
18. Global Health and Underserved Populations Track at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Global Health and Underserved Populations track trains students to work with basic methods of diagnosis and cost-effective treatments. Clinical rotations are performed at both local and international sites. Students who want to learn more about global health and welfare without the commitment of the rigorous Global Health and Underserved Populations track can do an Area of Concentration in Global Health.
The UCLA Center for World Health offers several global healthcare academic and experiential opportunities for medical students. UCLA medical students can participate in global health clinical electives, a training program in global health research, a global health pathway, a global health selective, and global health evening roundtable events. UCLA also has a student chapter of Doctors Without Borders.
Drexel medical students can participate in Drexel global learning programs. These include university-organized service, clinical work, and research experiences abroad, as well as domestic approved programs. There are also a number of on-campus courses regarding global health issues available to medical students. Drexel University also has a student chapter of Doctors Without Borders.