ISC: Global Health
Responding to a growing need in the US for health care professionals equipped with global expertise in local and international settings, the Vanderbilt University Institute for Global Health and the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine have developed an immersion course for third- and fourth-year medical students.
Students who participate in the ISC: Global Health will gain a deep understanding of diseases in resource-constrained settings through the lens of equity, population science, epidemiology, public health, health systems, health policy, and other issues related to international development. While course didactics focus on health systems and health disparities, students are able to rotate in a variety of specialty areas. Additionally, students have the opportunity to hone foreign language skills and to develop lasting partnerships in a cross-cultural setting with our international colleagues.
Global health clinical opportunities*
*Please note that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, not all sites are open. Site availability depends on the bandwidth of the supervisor and clinic to host a visiting student as well as the travel advisory level of the country.
(currently on hold)
In this month-long clinical rotation, students rotate at Vanderbilt’s partner sites in various locations around the world including, but not limited to, Ghana, Guatemala, Jordan, Kenya, and Peru. Once on-site, students can participate in a single or multiple rotations ranging from two to four weeks, which are designed based on both the student’s interests and the mentorship and resources available at the site.
During the month, students complete weekly online modules that introduce key concepts in global health and related foundational sciences. Foundational science topics include health equity, population health science, public health, pathology and pathophysiology (for both infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases), health systems sciences, and other foundational science related to the site (such as nutrition, maternal child health, and water/sanitation). Additional health and developmental issues that span nations and cultures, and which require collaborative, partnership-based action, are highlighted.
The course is taught through interactive digital lectures; articles from peer-reviewed journals; on-site exposures to patients, health systems, and communities; and distance mentoring sessions with Vanderbilt faculty. In the months prior to departure, students complete pre-departure online modules as well as attend a pre-departure orientation session to prepare them for immersion.
Students may participate in an immersion block at one of our standard sites (described in detail in the links above) during their 3rd or 4th year of medical school. If students have a compelling reason to participate in another site, they may propose an "alternate site" (see link above).
Approval for Vanderbilt medical students (including MD and other medical master and doctoral degrees such as public health and pharmacology) to travel internationally for course credit is now being considered. As the COVID-19 Pandemic is still dynamic, travel and approvals may be subject to review. Before planning travel or registering in a global health course or international activity with travel, please review the US State Department's Travel Advisories. If you plan to travel to a country with a level 3 or 4 advisory, please follow the steps below, which should be initiated 30-90 days prior to intended travel. It may take 2-4 weeks for a travel approval decision to be made. Please do not purchase tickets or make reservations until final approval is received. Approval will remain contingent on the risk level of the countries you will be traveling in and through.
STEP 1: Dean or Program Director endorsement
VUSM students should submit this form to provide information about their academic activity and international travel. Your Dean or Program Director will review your application. If endorsed, your application will be sent to Dr. Martin at the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health (VIGH).
STEP 2: Dr. Martin endorsement
Dr. Martin will review your application. If endorsed, you will receive an official letter to include in your VTRAC risk assessment form. If not endorsed, you will receive additional information from Dr. Martin.
STEP 3: VTRAC review and endorsement
The Vanderbilt Travel Risk Assessment Committee (VTRAC) and Ms. Bordeau will review your application. After review, your risk assessment will be sent to Dean Brady.
STEP 4: Dean Brady approval
Dean Brady will review your application and provide final approval. Once you have received approval, Dr. Martin and the VIGH education team (or your Program Director) will provide guidance on making flight reservations, which you can do through Concur or World Travel. If you purchase tickets through another system, please register your travel with Vanderbilt to be eligible for our free emergency evacuation service. When preparing for travel, you should use the Vanderbilt International Travel Safety and Security Checklist with COVID-19 Considerations.
Please note that Vanderbilt and VTRAC reserve the right to withdraw support for travel at any time if conditions shift in a dramatic way.
Click below to view video reflections from students about their ISC experiences:
Students are responsible for the full cost of their ISC course, including but not limited to airfare, room & board, ground transportation, vaccinations, visas, and other expenses. However, internal and external funding opportunities are available to help offset the costs of an ISC. VIGH has limited funds to support ISC travel (via the Overall Family Fellowship for Research) and we encourage students to explore early for additional funding opportunities as needed. You can find information on VIGH's funding and other external sources on our funding page.
Be aware of varying scholarship deadlines; VIGH’s annual scholarship application priority deadline is February 1 of each year for students traveling in that calendar year (Example: February 1, 2018 application priority deadline for travel in the 2018 calendar year).
Students are expected to be on-site for the entire duration of the scheduled block, unless there is a VUSM conflict. If there is a known conflict, the issue must be raised early in the planning process with the ISC Course Directors. Please refer to the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Academic Calendar and the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Student Handbook for specific dates and expectations. In some cases, there is flexibility around ISC dates. Note that students will not be excused from required VUSM activities for ISC related activities (this includes intersession, required class sessions and/or clinical rotations at Vanderbilt). It is the student's responsibility to be in compliance with school requirements. Additionally, no holidays or vacation may be taken during an ISC course.
We recommend, but do not require, arriving to the city a couple days before the ISC begins (i.e. on the weekend) in order to settle in and acclimate to the new surroundings before beginning rotations.
- Vanderbilt's Global Education Office website
- Please refer to the US Department of State for the most up to date information regarding visa information, travel warnings and advisories, and travel details