Open Access Open Badges Commentary

Global health education in U.S. Medical schools

Omar A Khan1*, Richard Guerrant2, James Sanders3, Charles Carpenter4, Margaret Spottswood5, David S Jones6, Cliff O’Callahan7, Timothy F Brewer8, Jeffrey F Markuns9, Stephen Gillam10, Joseph O’Neill11, Neal Nathanson12 and Stephen Wright13

Author affiliations

1 Community Health & Preventive Medicine, & Global Health Track, Department of Family & Community Medicine, Christiana Care Health System; Global Health Working Group, Delaware Health Sciences Alliance, Wilmington, Delaware, USA

2 Center for Global Health, International Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and International Health, University of Virginia, Virginia, USA

3 Department of Family & Community Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin, International Community Medicine Track, Columbia St Mary’s Family Medicine Residency Program, Milwaukee, WI, USA

4 Lifespan/Tufts/Brown Center for AIDS Research, Brown University, Providence, USA

5 Adult Psychiatry Residency Training Program, Cambridge Health Alliance/Harvard Medical School, 1493 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA, 02139, USA

6 Culture of Medicine, Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Faculty of Medicine, Harvard University, Science Center 371, Oxford St, Cambridge, MA, 02138, USA

7 Department of Pediatrics, University of Connecticut, Middlesex Hospital Family Medicine Residency, Connecticut, Middletown, USA

8 Global Health Programs; Department of Medicine, McGill University Medical School, 1020 Pine Ave West, Room 42, Montreal, QC, H3A 1A2, Canada

9 Department of Family Medicine, BUFM Global Health Collaborative, Boston University Medical Center, Boston, MA, 02118, USA

10 Institute of Public Health, Public Health Education, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 2SR, United Kingdom

11 Global Health Programs & Dept. of Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 620 W. Lexington St., 4th floor, Baltimore, MD, 21201, USA

12 Global Health Programs, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 1007 Blockley Hall, Philadelphia, PA, 19104-6021, USA

13 London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK

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Citation and License

BMC Medical Education 2013, 13:3  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-13-3

Published: 18 January 2013


Interest in global health (GH) among medical students worldwide is measurably increasing. There is a concomitant emphasis on emphasizing globally-relevant health professions education. Through a structured literature review, expert consensus recommendations, and contact with relevant professional organizations, we review the existing state of GH education in US medical schools for which data were available. Several recommendations from professional societies have been developed, along with a renewed emphasis on competencies in global health. The implementation of these recommendations was not observed as being uniform across medical schools, with variation noted in the presence of global health curricula. Recommendations for including GH in medical education are suggested, as well as ways to formalize GH curricula, while providing flexibility for innovation and adaptation