Expertise in Global Health

Global Health Training for MD Students

MD students at IU School of Medicine can benefit from a variety of global health experiences. Beginning with the first year of training, medical students take a course that advances their cultural competency and can join a student interest group dedicated to global health. Summer and spring break programs allow for deeper immersion, and a range of electives allow for specialty focus in various aspects of global health.

ENLACE: Alternative Spring Break – Nicaragua

The Alternative Spring Break experience in Nicaragua is open to first- and second-year medical students as well as any graduate-level professional student at Indiana University. Participants spend the week of Spring Break learning about Nicaraguan history and the Nicaraguan health care system as they complete a four-day service project constructing composting latrines while living with a Nicaraguan host family in a rural community. The goal of this program is to heighten participants’ awareness of global public health issues, hone their understanding of infrastructure development, and deepen cultural competencies as a means to encourage lifelong commitments to social advocacy and engagement. For more information, email Jennifer Custer.

ENLACE: Nicaragua Summer Language and Cultural Immersion

The Nicaragua Summer Language and Cultural Immersion program, available to rising second-year and fourth-year medical students, is designed to immerse students in a developing country to gain a direct understanding of the language in Nicaragua, and the systematic, policy and experiential differences between health care in the United States and in other countries. Participating students live in Nicaragua for four weeks during the summer months between their first and second year of medical school. In the first week, students receive a historical and cultural introduction to Nicaragua and participate in a four-day public health initiative constructing composing latrines in a mountain village. During weeks two-through-four, students live in the community of La Concepción with a host family, participate in daily Spanish classes, shadow Nicaraguan health care providers and volunteer in the community. For more information, email Jennifer Custer.

ENLACE: Alternative Spring Break – El Salvador

The Alternative Spring Break experience in El Salvador is open to first and second year medical students. The program heightens awareness of global public health issues, wrestles with the ethics of global volunteerism, hones a more complex understanding of global health infrastructure development and increases cultural humility, encouraging a lifelong commitment to wide-ranging social advocacy and engagement. During the week, participants construct an addition to a rural health clinic. Participants come to know the world and themselves more deeply as they learn about El Salvador’s rich culture and complex history. For more information, email Jennifer Custer.

ENLACE: El Salvador Summer Language and Cultural Immersion

The Summer Language and Cultural Immersion program offers medical students an intensive month-long immersion experience in El Salvador between their first and second year. Participants discover the past and present of El Salvador through an intensive 2-day orientation; participate in small-group classes focused on conversational Spanish; live with host-families; shadow a variety of health care providers in public hospitals and community clinics; participate in home health visits with lay midwives; study the health care delivery system in El Salvador; increase cultural humility; and analyze their experience against the backdrop of the six core principles of ethics in global health volunteerism. For more information, email Jennifer Custer.

ENLACE: El Salvador Global Health Elective

The global health elective in El Salvador (93ZH900) immerses medical students in a month-long international global health experience in a developing country. Participants undergo an introduction to global health issues and policies; begin to think critically about ethics in global health volunteerism; examine global health challenges and compare and contrast the systematic, policy and experiential differences between health care in the US and El Salvador. Participants hone Spanish language skills in daily classes, work under the supervision of El Salvadoran health care providers and live with a host family. Clinical work occurs at community-based health care facilities, non-governmental public health organizations and health promoter organizations. For more information, email Jennifer Custer.

Global Health Summer Education Internship

Rising second-year medical students can participate in the Global Health Summer Education Internship Program during the summer months. Participants establish and conduct research in global health while working collaboratively with key stakeholders to develop curricular materials to present as part of the IU School of Medicine Medical Research Day. For more information, email Jenny Baenziger.

Slemenda Scholars Program

Two- to- three rising second-year medical students are invited to travel to Eldoret, Kenya for 8 – 10 weeks during the summer months. Students learn about the many facets of the AMPATH program, live alongside Kenyan students at Moi University School of Medicine, complete projects and present their activities as part of the IU School of Medicine Medical Student Research Day. For more information, email Jenny Baenziger.

MD Electives

Fourth-year medical students compare and contrast health care systems in the United States and China during a one-month medical rotation in the third-largest city in China: Guangzhou. Students learn about differences in health care systems in urban and rural China and analyze community health problems in the context of political, sociolegal, cultural and economic factors. Email Marcus Schamberger, MD, or Zao C. Xu, MD, for more information.

Fourth-year medical students are invited to spend two months in Eldoret, Kenya. Students live alongside Kenyan medical students working in wards (general medicine, pediatrics, reproductive health or surgery) and outpatient clinics, and participate in AMPATH-related and local activities, including the Tumaini Center for Street Children, Rafiki Center for Excellence in Adolescent Health and Sally Test Child Life Program. Students attend lectures and discussions on ethical and global health issues facilitated by permanent IU School of Medicine faculty in Kenya. Upon return, students complete a debriefing session, a journal article or book review, and a reflection/analysis paper. Email Jenny Baenziger for more information.

Fourth-year medical students can travel to various areas across the globe to learn about and participate in health care in a developing country. Participating students complete orientation and debrief sessions, write a journal article or book review, and submit a reflection/analysis paper. Email Jenny Baenziger for more information.

Fourth-year medical students looking for international experience without leaving the United States may choose to participate in local avenues of health care for the Indianapolis global populations. Under the direction of Ruben Hernandez, MD, and the Department of Family Medicine, students spend time at clinics that serve a high volume of Hispanic and Burmese patients as well as the IU Travel Medicine Clinic, IU International Medicine Office, Immigration Welcome Center, the refugee intake clinic through the Marion County Health Department, and the Indiana Latino Health Organization.