ISC: Global Health

Responding to a growing need in US academia 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 population science, epidemiology, public health, health systems, health policy, and other issues related to international development. Additionally, there is 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

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Global Health Roation - Cayetano Heredia Peru


Global Health Rotation - Vanderbilt alternative site

Alternative Site


In this month-long clinical rotation, students are placed at Vanderbilt’s partner sites in various locations around the world including, but not limited to, Central America, Jordan, and Kenya. Once on-site, students participate in a variety of rotations ranging from one to four weeks, which are designed based on both the student’s interests and the mentorship and resources available at the site.

During rotation, students complete weekly online modules that introduce key concepts in global health and related foundational sciences. Foundational science topics include population health science, public health, pathology and pathophysiology (for both infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases), nutrition science, epidemiology, social sciences, behavioral sciences, health systems sciences, and microbiology (other foundational science areas could be covered depending on the site). 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, readings from peer-reviewed journals, on-site exposures to patients, health systems, and communities, and distance mentoring sessions with Vanderbilt faculty. In the month 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 five sites (described in detail below) in August, October, or February of their 3rd or 4th year of medical school. However, if students have a compelling reason to participate in another month or site, they may propose an alternate site/month (see below).

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. Please refer to the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Academic Calendar for specific dates. In some cases, there is flexibility around these dates but students will not be excused from required VUSM activities, including intercession, for ISC related activities. 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 arriving to the city a couple days (i.e. on the weekend) before the ISC begins in order to settle in and acclimate to the surroundings before beginning rotations.

The 2019-2020 Global Health ISC application is now available. Before clicking on “apply now,” please take time to carefully consider which location(s) will best meet your career interests and goals. CLICK HERE TO APPLY!

Elizabeth Rose - Education Coordinator, ISC: Global Health

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  • Phone: 615-875-9442