Global Health Education in General Preventive Medicine Residencies

      Opportunities for global health training during residency are steadily increasing. For example, surveys show that more than half of residency programs now offer international electives. Residency programs are increasingly recognizing that global health training improves communication skills, fosters awareness of health disparities, and inspires careers in primary care and public health. Although research has focused on global health education in other specialties, there is a paucity of research on global health training in public health and general preventive medicine (GPM). We sought to describe the extent of global health training across GPM residencies, capture the perspectives of program directors regarding competencies residents need for careers in global health, and identify program directors’ perceived barriers to providing global health training. The survey was sent electronically to 42 U.S. GPM residency program directors from September to October 2013. Twenty-three completed surveys were returned. Information from residencies that did not complete the study survey was collected through a predefined search protocol. Data analysis was performed from February through July 2014. Among program directors completing the survey, the most common types of reported global health education were courses (n=17), followed by international rotations (n=10). Ten program directors indicated that resident(s) were involved in global health training, research, or service initiatives. Commonly perceived barriers included funding (87%), scheduling (56.5%), and partnership and sustainability (34.8%). Through global health coursework, research, and practicum rotations, GPM residents could acquire skills, knowledge, and attitudes contributing to careers in global health.
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