Global Health Training in the Vanderbilt Internal Medicine Residency Program



Global health has become an inextricable component of medical practice and scholarly endeavor. Demand is increasing for health professionals who can function competently in a global marketplace, who have research or service interests in health problems of developing countries, or who wish to address global manpower inequities through training or service. The Vanderbilt Internal Medicine Global Health Pathway gives Internal Medicine residents formalized access to global health expertise and resources of Vanderbilt University, coordinated through the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health.

Pathway Structure

Residents identify interest in global health either before arriving at Vanderbilt or during their internship year, by communicating with the Residency Program Director and Global Health Pathway Directors, Drs. C. William Wester and Douglas C. Heimburger.  VIGH Internal Medicine faculty mentors then assist the Global Health Pathway residents to organize their elective blocks to acquire foundational knowledge in global health and to obtain experience providing clinical care, and in some cases conducting research, in low-resource settings at sites with strong Vanderbilt institutional connections.  Pathway residents complete their training within the usual 3-year residency duration.

Sample Schedule

Emergency clinic in Georgetown, Guyana (photo by Adeline Dozois)


  • 24 weeks of inpatient medicine (including general medicine, intensive care, and subspecialty services)
  • 16 weeks of continuity clinic
  • 4 weeks of international rotation
  • 3 weeks of vacation, 1 week of educational leave (2 two-week blocks)
  • -4 weeks of night float (actually 3 weeks night float + 1 week elective)


  • 16 weeks of inpatient medicine
  • 16 weeks of continuity clinics
  • 4 weeks of international rotation
  • 4 weeks of night float (actually 3 weeks night float + 1 week elective)
  • 3 weeks of vacation, 1 week of educational leave (2 two-week blocks)
  • 2 weeks of subspecialty consults
  • 2 weeks of emergency medicine
  • 2 weeks of CCU

Clinical Sites

*Clinical rotations are integral to the Global Health Pathway, but they are also available to residents who want to gain global clinical experience without pursuing the entire Pathway.

International Sites

Africa (English language is sufficient except as noted)

  • University of Zambia Teaching Hospital, Lusaka, Zambia
  • Friends of Global Health, Quelimane, Mozambique (Portuguese language proficiency required)
  • University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Kijabe Hospital, Kijabe, Kenya

Latin America (English language is sufficient except as noted)

  • University of Guyana Hospital, Georgetown, Guyana
  • Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua, León, Nicaragua (Spanish language skills required)
  • Hospital de Occidente, Ministerio de Salud, Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras (Spanish language skills required)

Asia (Mandarin language skill is helpful, but not required)

  • Shandong University, Jinan, Shandong Province, China

Middle East (Arabic language skill is helpful, but not required)

  • University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan

Domestic sites

Global Health Courses

Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health offers traditional and online courses to Vanderbilt undergraduate seniors, medical students, nursing students, and graduate-level students in other programs, as well as Meharry Medical College students.

Featured Courses:

Essential Skills in Global Health

Core field tools, needs assessment, implementation techniques and methodologies in global health program implementation. Management and leadership of global health programs and organizations in complex and challenging environments. Underpinnings of health systems, data collection, and analysis, program design and management. [3 credit hours]

Foundations of Global Health

This course introduces students to key topics, concepts and methods in global health, examining determinants of complex issues and exploring multidimensional approaches and interventions with a particular emphasis on low resource settings. Health and developmental issues across nations and cultures that require collective (partnership-based) action are highlighted by an interdisciplinary faculty using didactic, interactive and practical elements of instruction. At the conclusion of the course, students should be able to discuss research and evaluation methodologies commonly used in the field, identify key global health questions and design suitable projects that address the question. [3 credit hours]

Click here to view a full listing of VIGH courses.

Faculty Mentors

Contact Information

Douglas C. Heimburger, M.D., M.S. (

C. William Wester, M.D., M.P.H (

Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health

2525 West End Avenue, Suite 750

(615) 322-9374