Many medical schools now offer classes and programs with overseas field experiences or international internships - and demand for global health education appears to be rising (.pdf). But sometimes students find themselves in questionable situations when they work in other countries.
Michele Barry, MD, Stanford's director of global health initiatives in the School of Medicine, wants to fully prepare educators, students, physicians, and researchers for the thorny questions that can arise when they head overseas. Last Friday, at the long-running Stanford Ethics at Noon public seminar, Barry introduced several real-life conflicts faced by global health students and researchers for discussion and debate. She'll use the dialogue to shape an online training module for soon-to-depart students around the globe.
Barry said some poorly resourced sites have pushed students into providing health-care services far beyond their training. Adding to the complexity of the issues, hosts sometimes expend a lot of precious money and effort to bring students, interns, or medical residents from overseas.
Global health research can land scientists and physicians in hot water as well, especially when the topic concerns behaviors or diseases that carry a lot of stigma. Problems can also arise if the foreign hosts have a more casual approach or an incomplete understanding of the research ethics that govern the research.
For more information about the talk, and to read the student-written responses to the issues Barry raised, head over to the Ethics at Noon website.
Photo by Keith Rozendal