As a result of the increased student interest in global health, learners are increasingly exposed to challenging ethical dilemmas and potentially hazardous situations. The OGH recognizes that these situations require careful preparation and considerable awareness among students, supervising faculty and the host and sponsoring institutions.
Thorough pre-departure preparation is essential to having a safe and enriching global health education experience. The Office of Global Health’s orientation process provides resources and information to students on issues such as global health ethics, personal health and safety, professionalism, and cross-cultural competencies, among others. There are many opportunities for students to prepare on their own time and the OGH encourages UAMS students to review several online resources related to best practices listed below:
Articulating ethical concerns and potential hazards:
- Some health programs overseas let students do too much, too soon (2013; The Chronicle of Higher Education)
- Medical tourism (YouTube video)
- Global health ethics for students (2009; Developing World Bioethics)
- Ethical dilemmas during the global health elective (2015; EM Resident)
- Developing ethical awareness in global health: four cases for medical educators (2014; Developing World Bioethics)
Best practice guidelines and competency development:
Adhering to established best practices and ensuring the development of competencies in those participating in global health activities can help maximize the benefits and minimize the harms of global health programs.
- Ethics and best practice guidelines for training experiences in global health (2010; American Journal of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene)
- Identifying interprofessional global health competencies for 21st-century health professionals (2015; Annals of Global Health)
- Perspective: a proposed medical school curriculum to help students recognize and resolve ethical issues of global health work (2012; Academic Medicine)
- Beyond medical “missions” to impact-driven short-term experiences in global health (STEGHs): ethical principles to optimize community benefit and learner experiences (2016; Academic Medicine)
- The ethical conundrum of international health electives in medical education (2012; Journal of Global Citizenship & Equity Education)
- Unite for Sight offers a free online course that helps to ensure that volunteers understand their role and how to make an impactful difference while abroad. This pre-service training focuses on ethics and professionalism.
Ensuring trainee safety
Trainee safety is an essential element of any global health experience; yet many trainees may not be adequately prepared for their experience. Several organizations have developed pre-trip trainings, including:
- The Global Ambassadors for Patient Safety online workshop is designed for all students who are going abroad and plan to work or volunteer in a healthcare setting. The workshop content is available to everyone, everywhere, at no cost.
- The Society for Academic Emergency Medicine has collaborated with other medical associations to created guidelines for trainees conducting global health electives.