The Value of Global Health Experiences Abroad in Developing Cultural Sensitivity in Undergraduate Medical Education

Medical students, residents, and physicians are encouraged and often required to continue their medical education to possess up-to-date skills and knowledge to best serve their patients. Changes in medicine are not limited to guidelines and therapeutics but also patient populations, leading to an ever-increasing need for improved cultural competency. Clinical experiences abroad are valuable in prompting reflection and discussion regarding cultural values, patient perspectives on traditional medicine, available resources on a global scale, and international community education. A key factor in establishing a successful global health experience is student orientation with regard to expectations, cultural appropriateness, and overcoming language barriers while working with local staff to establish trust and participation. Through descriptive summaries and case studies of three global health experiences from undergraduate medical students to Nepal, China, and the Philippines, this study highlights not only the importance of developing cultural awareness, but also encourages the support of international health student organizations and elective rotations to further professional development and osteopathic practices in global medicine.

Author(s): Zhou YQ, Chin J, Wong KY, Wan P, Bahri TJ and Lomiguen C

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