The field of global health is rapidly expanding in many medical centers across the US. As a result, medical students have increasing opportunities to incorporate global health experiences (GHEs) into their medical education. Ethics is a critical component of global health curricula, yet little literature exists to direct the further development of didactic training. Therefore, we sought to define ethical encounters experienced by medical students participating in short-term surgical GHEs and create a framework for the design of ethics curriculum specific to global surgery.