US-European Collaboration Generates Essential Tool for Health Students Considering International Electives

UK based Medsin-UK and California based Child Family Health International have collaborated on a tool that provides a roadmap for medical and other health professions students who are considering an international elective. Tool provides essential information for students and patients to stay safe and ensure progress toward global health.

​​Child Family Health International, a Bay Area NGO in special consultative status with the UN ECOSOC, has delivered ethical global health programming to students for over two decades.

In collaboration with Medsin-UK, a student network and registered charity tackling global and local health inequalities through education, advocacy and community action, a new set of guidelines have been created in hopes of targeting current ethical problems with international medical electives. Global health experiences and international electives for medical and other health professions students are growing in popularity.

However, as Dr. Jessica Evert, Executive Director of CFHI explains, “There are hundreds of organizations offering international electives and volunteer opportunities, but these are not created equal.  Some are actually putting patients and students in harms way or even trying to turn a profit. Meanwhile, international electives hold great potential to build the cross-cultural expertise and resource-consciousness of future doctors. The benefits or pitfalls are predictable and this tool helps students not get caught in a bad situation.”

The road-map, found at focuses on the major categories of education, safety, social and environmental responsibility, and economic models and is designed to help students looking for an international elective select the right one.  The project takes specific aim at sustainability and social responsibility goals in an effort to warn students about experiences that do not account for long-term commitments to local partnerships.  Among other things, students are encouraged to consider whether marketing exploits poverty or over-promises impacts students can make with a short term.

Natasha Matthews of Medsin-UK states, “students are important stakeholders in the movement to make overseas elective programs more educational, safe, sustainable and financially just. However, there is a lack of material to help them decide which elective providers they wish to use. This tool is designed to help students vote with their feet and choose learning opportunities that embody these values.”

In the coming months Medsin-UK and CFHI plan to encourage university faculty in the US and the UK to adopt these guidelines when guiding students to apply for international electives.

About Child Family Health International

Child Family Health International (CFHI) provides community-based Global Health Education Programs for students and institutions. Our unique model fosters reciprocal partnerships and empowerment in local communities, transforming perspectives about self, healing and global citizenship.

CFHI is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the ECOSOC of the United Nations.

About Medsin

Medsin is a student network and registered charity tackling global and local health inequalities through education, advocacy and community action. We have a vision of ‘a fair and just world in which equity in health is a reality for all’ and believe that the students of today are critical to bringing about an equitable and healthy world of tomorrow.

Source: Child Family Health International


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