The Global Health focus area of the Vanderbilt School of Medicine Emphasis Program provides students the opportunity to expand their knowledge of health issues of international significance through research projects in developing countries. Potential projects span over two dozen countries where the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health has established partnerships and include a broad range of current themes in global health; from medical sciences and clinical investigation to socio-cultural correlates of health and health care delivery. Participation in the Global Health track and other directed study provides students with the foundation necessary for future work as international clinicians and researchers.
VIGH Associate Director Doug Heimburger and VIGH Director Sten Vermund serve as leaders of the Global Health Track of the VUSM Emphasis Program. The Emphasis Program is an opportunity for Vanderbilt medical students to do work in global health as an integrated part of their medical training. Global Health encompasses both prevention via public health and treatment via medical care, all nested within a broader community-development context.
Past Emphasis Program projects
- Assessment of HIV interventions in Nimule, Sudan
- Evaluation of home-based HIV care at Macha Mission Hospital in Zambia
- Short-term mobile clinic work in Zambia
- Public health assessments in the Navajo Reservation in “The Four Corners” (Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado)
VUMC Reporter articles on past Emphasis Program projects in global health:
- “Medical students span globe for Emphasis Program projects“
- “VUSM students’ research road trips focus on HIV/AIDS“
The Global Health focus area targets health problems of resource-limited settings from a comprehensive and holistic perspective. The Lancet has defined Global Health as “an area for study, research and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide. Global Health emphasizes transnational health issues, determinants and solutions; involves many disciplines within and beyond the health sciences and promotes interdisciplinary collaboration; and is a synthesis of population-based prevention with individual-level clinical care.”
Students are expected to work in a resource-limited country for 6-10 weeks during the summer. Student participation in projects in Global Health entails special responsibilities for faculty as mentors and has unique requirements for students over and above those working in other areas of the Emphasis Program. Accordingly:
- The Emphasis Program will accept up to 15 VMS I students into the Global Health area. The number will be decided in consultation with the head of Global Health each year, taking into consideration resources available to the area.
- Selection of students to participate in the Global Health Emphasis area will be on the basis of merit and will be decided by a committee of faculty in the area. In other words, acceptance is not automatic.
- Criteria for selection
- Students must show they are able to maintain a good academic standing in VMS I, so that they do not require remediation in the summer.
- Preference will be given to students who wish to undertake projects at overseas sites where Vanderbilt has an established presence.
- Students will be required to submit a 500-1000 word proposal for review by the Global Health area prior to signing an Initial Commitment.
A research manuscript worthy of submission for publication will be a goal for all students. Additional or alternative outcomes might consist of a presentation at a national meeting, local presentations, and “how-to” articles or brochures. The ultimate goal of the experience is for the student to participate in the acquisition and dissemination of new knowledge that can benefit developing countries.