Global burdens of disease are local and global in nature and scope The health of the entire U.S. population can be affected by public health threats or events across the globe. Medical literature has illustrated the positive outcomes for student, resident, fellow and faculty involvement in global health opportunities. The Institute of Medicine’s 2003 report on microbial threats stresses that we should enhance global capacity for responding to infectious disease threats like ebola or Zika and take a lead role in promoting comprehensive global surveillance systems. 

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  Global Health Benefits

studentslearningThe medical literature has illustrated the positive outcomes for student, resident, fellow and faculty involvement in global health opportunities. This type of experience is a means for physicians-in-training to learn important lessons about health disparities and cultural diversity and encourages a lifelong commitment to the service of vulnerable communities (Acad Medicine, 2010).

  • Participation in global health electives is associated with increased likelihood of community service, interest in primary care fields and improved skills in problem solving and clinical examination (Acad Medicine 2003).
  • Global health collaboration can be beneficial to the health of all as individuals who have access to better medical care usually are healthier.
  • Moreover, physicians and other caregivers who have access to the latest knowledge in biomedical science are better equipped to deal with individual health problems as well as public health threats. (Acad Medicine 2010).
  • Since disease respects neither national boundaries nor government mandates, a better-educated, well-trained cadre of physicians and scientists in a particular country can be more effective in preventing the spread of disease to other parts of the world. (Acad Medicine 2010).
  Global Health Pathway

asianstudentThe Global Health Pathway is one of many MCW Scholarly Pathways that are a required for all MCW M1 and M2 students and optional in the M-3 year. Pathways allow students to individualize their medical training while exploring a career path of interest.

Under the direction of Academic Affairs and lead by Dr. Stephen Hargarten, the Global Health Pathway is designed for students interested in understanding the unique healthcare needs of patients, families, and communities both locally and globally, in/from neighborhoods to nations, and the challenges/assets of working in these areas of the world with diverse health care resources.

Core curriculum topics are consistent with those proposed by the Consortium of Universities for Global Health and other medical schools that have long been on the forefront of global health education and research. Pathway activities are coordinated with the office of Global Health.

For more information contact:

Stephen Hargarten, MD, MPH
Global Health Pathway Director

Sarah Leineweber
Global Health Pathway Coordinator

  Global Health Electives

blackteacherStudents interested in opportunities to do a global health elective are encouraged to contact the Office of Global Health Manager, Tifany Frazer for more information. A list of current M4 Student Global Health Electives (PDF) to get started can be reviewed in planning preparation. Several exemplar electives are summarized below. View our Guide for Global Engagement (PDF).

Global Health in Belize

Hillside Health Care International (Hillside) operates as a nongovernment organization providing health care to an underserved, indigenous population near Eldridgeville, Belize. Hillside exposes students to both advanced presentations of common US diseases and neglected tropical diseases, which will complement their MCW medical school curriculum. Through varied activities, participants will gain an appreciation of how medicine and health promotion are conducted in a developing environment. They will also have a rare opportunity to work closely within a multidisciplinary team of trainees to provide supervised medical care. Concurrently, students will gain an understanding and appreciation of the unique cultures of Belize and of the unique medical conditions encountered in the tropics.

Global Health in Nepal

This M4 listed elective in global health takes place at the Dhulikhel Hospital, Kathmandu University, Dept of Community Medicine in Kathmandu, Nepal and Patan Hospital, Patan Academy of Health Sciences in Kathmandu, Nepal. Guided by the principles of social equity and sustainable development, these hospitals' trained staff aim to provide cost effective, compassionate and quality health care services. They believe that quality health services regardless of patient economic status and by keeping costs down, it is able to provide care to everyone. Students are exposed to most clinical specialties through a combination of inpatient, outpatient, and even community health programming.

Global Health in Haiti

This listed M4 elective is located at a rural nongovernmental organization, Friends for Health in Haiti. Students gain an understanding of the differential diagnosis, possible treatment modalities, and clinical course of acute and chronic presentations of common tropical medical conditions/illnesses. They develop basic Creole language skills, cultural understanding, and sensitivity in order to effectively and appropriately work with rural Haitian patients in the clinic and Haitian farm families in the local communities. They develop a basic knowledge of Haitian health beliefs and the role of traditional medicine in rural society.

Global Health in Zambia

The listed M4 elective is offered by the Department of Public Health, School of Medicine, University of Zambia, Lusaka, Zambia. This rotation is particularly well suited to learners interested in knowing more about systems of health care, the link between social determinants and health outcomes, and how the principles of public health can inform Global Health work in both developing and developed settings [Spottswood & Khan, 2010; Gillam & Maudsley 2009]. This elective will broaden trainee exposure to include principles of international development, sustainability, prevention, and other relevant topics beyond curative therapies and interventions.

  Medical Spanish Selective

Medical Spanish Academic Enrichment Selectivemomwithchild
Course dates vary each year

A beginning and advanced medical Spanish course is offered each year to MCW M-1 and M-2 students.  It consists of 4 didactic sessions and 4 conversational sessions, taught by a physician educator and involves Spanish-speaking volunteers from the Milwaukee community. In addition to language skills, the course provides more in depth exploration of Latino culture and the impact of this culture on the interaction between the Spanish speaking patient, their family, and the health care system.  

NOTE: At the end of this course, the student will not be prepared to replace the need for an interpreter in medical or emergency situations.

Course size will be 25. M2 students will be given first priority in registration. Remaining spaces will be offered to M1 students.

Grading: Successful completion of the Medical Spanish Academic Enrichment Selective will be noted on the student’s transcript.

For more information contact:
Brett Bordini, MD
Medical Spanish Course Director

Contact Us

Stephen Hargarten, MD, MPH
Associate Dean for Global Health
Professor and Chair of Emergency Medicine
Director of the Injury Research Center
at the Medical College of Wisconsin | (414) 805-6454

Tifany Frazer, MPH
Program Manager | (414) 955-4763

Claire Reuning, MA
Program Coordinator | (414) 955-5646

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