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The evolution of global health teaching in undergraduate medical curricula.

Rowson M, Smith A, Hughes R, Johnson O, Maini A, Martin S, Martineau F, Miranda JJ, Pollit V, Wake R, Willott C, Yudkin JS - Global Health (2012)

Bottom Line: We argue that teaching of global health in undergraduate medical curricula must respond to changing understandings of the term global health.In particular it must be taught from the perspective of more disciplines than just biomedicine, in order to reflect the social, political and economic causes of ill health.In this way global health can provide valuable training for all doctors, whether they choose to remain in their countries of origin or work abroad.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: UCL Institute for Global Health, 30 Guilford Street, London, UK. m.rowson@ucl.ac.uk

ABSTRACT

Background: Since the early 1990s there has been a burgeoning interest in global health teaching in undergraduate medical curricula. In this article we trace the evolution of this teaching and present recommendations for how the discipline might develop in future years.

Discussion: Undergraduate global health teaching has seen a marked growth over the past ten years, partly as a response to student demand and partly due to increasing globalization, cross-border movement of pathogens and international migration of health care workers. This teaching has many different strands and types in terms of topic focus, disciplinary background, the point in medical studies in which it is taught and whether it is compulsory or optional. We carried out a survey of medical schools across the world in an effort to analyse their teaching of global health. Results indicate that this teaching is rising in prominence, particularly through global health elective/exchange programmes and increasing teaching of subjects such as globalization and health and international comparison of health systems. Our findings indicate that global health teaching is moving away from its previous focus on tropical medicine towards issues of more global relevance. We suggest that there are three types of doctor who may wish to work in global health - the 'globalised doctor', 'humanitarian doctor' and 'policy doctor' - and that each of these three types will require different teaching in order to meet the required competencies. This teaching needs to be inserted into medical curricula in different ways, notably into core curricula, a special overseas doctor track, optional student selected components, elective programmes, optional intercalated degrees and postgraduate study.

Summary: We argue that teaching of global health in undergraduate medical curricula must respond to changing understandings of the term global health. In particular it must be taught from the perspective of more disciplines than just biomedicine, in order to reflect the social, political and economic causes of ill health. In this way global health can provide valuable training for all doctors, whether they choose to remain in their countries of origin or work abroad.

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Number of schools teaching global health topics, and length of time they have been taught.
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Figure 1: Number of schools teaching global health topics, and length of time they have been taught.

Mentions: Our results indicate that, firstly, international elective and exchange opportunities appear to be the main gateway for acquiring some interaction with the field of global health. (Table 2) In addition to this, it is encouraging that many of the other topics are addressed to varying degrees by at least some medical schools. Sixty-one (95%) medical schools delivered teaching in at least one of the nine topics surveyed. In contrast to Bandaranayake’s findings (from a survey of different medical schools) our survey indicates new global health topics being added to the curriculum over time (Figure 1) with the balance of what is taught seemingly changing, as indicated by the emerging popularity of globalization and health and international comparison of health systems as topics of study. A number of schools have included elective opportunities and tropical medicine in medical undergraduate curricula for more than ten years.


The evolution of global health teaching in undergraduate medical curricula.

Rowson M, Smith A, Hughes R, Johnson O, Maini A, Martin S, Martineau F, Miranda JJ, Pollit V, Wake R, Willott C, Yudkin JS - Global Health (2012)

Number of schools teaching global health topics, and length of time they have been taught.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3539925&req=5

Figure 1: Number of schools teaching global health topics, and length of time they have been taught.
Mentions: Our results indicate that, firstly, international elective and exchange opportunities appear to be the main gateway for acquiring some interaction with the field of global health. (Table 2) In addition to this, it is encouraging that many of the other topics are addressed to varying degrees by at least some medical schools. Sixty-one (95%) medical schools delivered teaching in at least one of the nine topics surveyed. In contrast to Bandaranayake’s findings (from a survey of different medical schools) our survey indicates new global health topics being added to the curriculum over time (Figure 1) with the balance of what is taught seemingly changing, as indicated by the emerging popularity of globalization and health and international comparison of health systems as topics of study. A number of schools have included elective opportunities and tropical medicine in medical undergraduate curricula for more than ten years.

Bottom Line: We argue that teaching of global health in undergraduate medical curricula must respond to changing understandings of the term global health.In particular it must be taught from the perspective of more disciplines than just biomedicine, in order to reflect the social, political and economic causes of ill health.In this way global health can provide valuable training for all doctors, whether they choose to remain in their countries of origin or work abroad.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: UCL Institute for Global Health, 30 Guilford Street, London, UK. m.rowson@ucl.ac.uk

ABSTRACT

Background: Since the early 1990s there has been a burgeoning interest in global health teaching in undergraduate medical curricula. In this article we trace the evolution of this teaching and present recommendations for how the discipline might develop in future years.

Discussion: Undergraduate global health teaching has seen a marked growth over the past ten years, partly as a response to student demand and partly due to increasing globalization, cross-border movement of pathogens and international migration of health care workers. This teaching has many different strands and types in terms of topic focus, disciplinary background, the point in medical studies in which it is taught and whether it is compulsory or optional. We carried out a survey of medical schools across the world in an effort to analyse their teaching of global health. Results indicate that this teaching is rising in prominence, particularly through global health elective/exchange programmes and increasing teaching of subjects such as globalization and health and international comparison of health systems. Our findings indicate that global health teaching is moving away from its previous focus on tropical medicine towards issues of more global relevance. We suggest that there are three types of doctor who may wish to work in global health - the 'globalised doctor', 'humanitarian doctor' and 'policy doctor' - and that each of these three types will require different teaching in order to meet the required competencies. This teaching needs to be inserted into medical curricula in different ways, notably into core curricula, a special overseas doctor track, optional student selected components, elective programmes, optional intercalated degrees and postgraduate study.

Summary: We argue that teaching of global health in undergraduate medical curricula must respond to changing understandings of the term global health. In particular it must be taught from the perspective of more disciplines than just biomedicine, in order to reflect the social, political and economic causes of ill health. In this way global health can provide valuable training for all doctors, whether they choose to remain in their countries of origin or work abroad.

Show MeSH