Medical Students

Global health has become an inextricable component of medical. Demand is increasing for health professionals who can function competently in a global marketplace, who have research or service interests in health issues in developing countries, or who wish to address global inequities through training or service.

From in-country courses, clinical rotations, and research to on-campus research and activities, VIGH’s global health opportunities for medical students will introduce you to key topics and concepts in global health including diseases and their medical, social, and systemic root causes as well as clinical- and community-based interventions appropriate for low-resource settings. Past student rotations and projects span over three dozen countries where VIGH has partnerships and include a broad range of topics in global health from biomedical sciences and clinical investigation to socio-cultural correlates of health and health care delivery. Participation in global health research and training programs and other directed studies provide students with a foundation for future work as international clinicians, researchers, and public health workers.

Dr. Elizabeth Rose advises students interested in pursuing global health as an integrated part of their medical training. Please reach out to her if you are interested in any of these courses, research opportunities, or activities.

  • The Integrated Science Course (ISC): Global Health is a one-month clinical rotation that introduces students to key topics and concepts in global health including diseases, conditions, and health interventions common in low-resource settings. Health and developmental issues across nations and cultures that require collective (partnership-based) action are highlighted.

    Students often rotate at VIGH partner hospitals and clinics in Guatemala, Jordan, Kenya, Peru, and elsewhere. Additionally, students can propose an "alternative site" in which they identify a site and arrange the rotation.

    This didactic course is taught through clinical immersion, online modules that introduce students to key topics and concepts in global health, weekly discussion boards and virtual mentoring sessions with VUSM faculty, and a capstone project and essay. The capstone project is identified in conjunction with the site so that the project is mutually beneficial to them and the student.

    Students are responsible for covering all of their personal expenses associated with the course and travel but small amounts of funding may be available.

  • The AE Global Health is an extension of the ISC: Global Health and aims to provide clinical experience in the care of patients in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), most often in resource-constrained environments. This course can be clinical or non-clinical, so if you're interested in studying medical Spanish*, this course is a great option!

    In this course, you will

    • assess the common health problems encountered at the site, the usual treatment protocols, and how management differs from that in the U.S. or other developed countries
    • learn how treatment and treatment decisions are influenced by local contexts, policies, and cultural components
    • mindfully and ethically draw on your ‘resourcefulness’ to navigate the various constraints of working in resource-constrained settings

    The hospital or clinic site is arranged by the student and approved by course directors. Approval can be facilitated by Vanderbilt faculty involvement at the site. Students are responsible for covering all of their personal expenses associated with the course and travel but small amounts of funding may be available.

    *These programs offer medical Spanish training:


    The AE Global Telehealth offers students an opportunity to engage with health care providers in clinical settings in eastern Africa, including Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. Through partnership with The Addis Clinic, based in Nashville, students communicate via WhatsApp with providers to participate in assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of patients. Clinical rotations are supplemented by foundational global health online modules.  Students can register for this course without completing the ISC: Global Health (for the in-person AE course, students must first take the ISC). Students consult with The Addis Clinic to identify a capstone project that will be mutually beneficial to all.

  • Through the VUSM research immersion in global health, VIGH supports medical students interested in global health research. Potential projects where Vanderbilt faculty have established partnerships span a wide range of countries, specialties, and types of research. over two dozen countries. You can view a curated list of potential research topics or search the Global Health Opportunities Database, which may provide ideas for a potential research project.  

    Students can, but not required, spend one to six months on-site. However, it is possible to complete your entire global health research project at Vanderbilt. Students receive mentoring from Vanderbilt faculty and funding is available to off-set the cost of travel. It is our goal that students publish their research immersion project.


    Past medical student global health research projects:

    • Attrition of psychiatric patients at the Mental Health Commission of Ayacucho
    • Patient perspectives on opt-out HIV screening in a Guyanese emergency department
    • Use of non-invasive serum biomarkers in gastric cancer and precursor screening in Chile
    • Epidemiology of hearing loss in Olancho, Honduras
    • Delirium Occurrence and Outcomes in a Zambian ICU
    • Digital mobile technology as a screening tool for eye care in rural Nepal
    • Mixed methods study of family planning in Lwala, Kenya
    • Barriers to and facilitators of child survival in Lwala, Kenya
    • Identifying factors associated with loss-to-follow-up among pre-ART patients in Zambezia Province, Mozambique through interview and other qualitative methods
    • Assessing a community development project associated with a micro-lending of livestock to HIV infected persons
    • Analyzing questions critical to the effective development, distribution, and consumption of the GuateNut product
    • Respiratory Syncytial Virus / Asthma and Dengue in the Northern Argentina
    • Public health assessments in the Navajo Reservation in “The Four Corners” (Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado)
    • NHI Fogarty International Center’s LAUNCH program: Mentored, year-long research training in global health at established biomedical and health research institutions and project sites in low- and middle-income countries.
    • Fulbright-Fogarty Fellowship in Public Health: NIH’s Fogarty International Center has partnered with the Fulbright Program to promote the expansion of research in public health and clinical research in resource-limited settings for medical and graduate students. Review the Country Summary for details on country specific eligibility requirements and research placements. 
    • Fulbright Open Study/Research Award: Applicants for study/research awards design their own projects and will typically work with advisers at foreign universities or other institutes of higher education. The study/research awards are available in approximately 140 countries. Program requirements vary by country, so the applicants' first step is to familiarize themselves with the program summary for the host country.
    • Fulbright U.S. Student Awards​: In partnership with more than 140 countries worldwide, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers unparalleled opportunities to meet, work, live with and learn from the people of the host country, sharing daily experiences. Grant lengths and project scope vary by award.
    • UCSF Global Health Fellowships | HEAL Initiative: The HEAL fellowship aims to train and transform healthcare professionals from around the world to provide care for the resource-denied while becoming part of the global movement for health equity. Site Fellows and Rotating Fellows learn together and work together in the cohort community. They partner to deliver projects in the community, at the clinical level, in research, and in teaching. Partnership and solidarity are not just project based, but are deeply embedded into many personal and professional aspects of the fellowship, creating a space for shared knowledge, reflection, and co-creation of solutions and relationships that last well beyond the two year fellowship.