Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics


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COMSEP 2012 Indianapolis Meeting

Poster Presentation:

Preparing Medical Students for Pediatric Global Health Electives: Development of a Pre-Departure Orientation Curriculum for the Global Health Education Program at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Lee T Miller, M.D. - David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; Risa M Hoffman, M.D., MPH - David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; Ryan J Coller, M.D. - David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; Thomas J Coates, Ph.D - David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; Gregory Szekeres, BA - David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; Stacey Yudin, BA - David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Background: Medical student interest in global health electives has been increasing tremendously. The requirement for students to participate in pre-departure training sessions is a critical element to making the experience safe and meaningful.

Methods: In 2010 the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA initiated a formal Global Health Education Program, sending senior students for clinical rotations in South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, Peru and Brazil. A full day pre-departure orientation and training program was developed for these students, including lectures and interactive sessions on (1) Traveler’s health (food and water precautions); (2) Traveler’s safety; (2) Occupational and non-occupational post-exposure prophylaxis; (3) Professionalism and cultural sensitivity;  (5) Country-specific biomedical and public health topics (including student-prepared and faculty-mentored small group discussions); and (6) Responding to emergencies (including evacuation insurance). Students completed a qualitative evaluation at the end of the training.

Results: A total of 26 students completed the orientation on one of two Saturdays. After completing the program, students reported an increased knowledge of health and safety topics, increased awareness of cultural issues, and increased knowledge of country-specific biomedical topics. Students also reported proficiency in the use of an emergency response system, and the details for activating health and evacuation insurance. Of note, while working abroad one student experienced a personal health emergency and appropriately activated the emergency evacuation system. Two other students reported occupational exposures immediately to the on-call UCLA faculty member. We received additional feedback from local site mentors who reported high satisfaction with the professionalism and cultural sensitivity of the UCLA medical students.

Conclusion: The global health pre-departure orientation program is one format to better prepare students for work abroad, and is now required by the UCLA School of Medicine for all students participating in programs abroad. This poster will highlight the content of the program, which may serve as a guide for other institutions establishing pediatric electives in global settings.