Photo: UCLA medical students participating in microbiology rounds on the infectious disease service at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand.

Monday, June 19, 2017

It is a particularly exciting time to study global health at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, as there are a large variety of opportunities for medical students to customize their global health training and experiences. The Global Health Education Program through the UCLA Center for World Health offers a variety of educational programs for UCLA medical students, including classroom-based learning, field-based research opportunities, as well as global health clinical experiences during students’ last year of study.

This year, CWH facilitated global health clinical electives for 39 fourth year medical students. Students participated in electives in China, Ghana, India, Malawi, Mozambique, Peru, South Africa, and Thailand. The clinical elective is a highly tailored experience, providing students exposure to a variety of services, including emergency medicine, family medicine, infectious diseases, ob-gyn, ophthalmology, pediatrics, and surgery.

CWH also provided financial support to 17 students who participated in a medical Spanish elective in Costa Rica. In total, more than 30 percent of the graduating class participated in a credit-bearing elective abroad.

For many students, the elective provides a first exposure to global health and helps inform their clinical careers, prompting them to envision how they might incorporate global health activities during residency and beyond. Furthermore, students find that skills gained abroad are applicable not only to international settings, but also to their domestic medical practice.

According to Elizabeth Fisseha, a recent graduate who completed an elective in Chennai, India, “Witnessing the excellent clinical expertise, multilingualism, and cultural sensitivity of physicians here has inspired me to continue to hone my own clinical and language skills so that I may be able to communicate with patients from various backgrounds here in the U.S.”

Sarah Mottahedan, who traveled to Lilongwe, Malawi, expressed similar sentiments stating, “As healthcare professionals and as patients, we take our healthcare system for granted and we don’t consider the costs to our healthcare system. After working in a limited resource area, I realize that we can be both grateful for the resources we have at our disposal for patient care and, on the other hand, we can also be more conscious about what is needed to care for patients.”
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