FAQs: International Medical Education
The International Medical Education Program (IMEP) is the overarching program that oversees the process that UMMS medical students must go through for any global health experience while a student at UMMS. Global health experiences include the Flexible Clinical Electives (FCEs) that students may do in 3rd year, and global health electives that students may do in 4th year.
The Global Health Pathway (GHP) is an optional 4-year program that interested students apply to at the start of their 1st year of medical school.
Both students in the GHP and students who are not in the GHP are eligible to do FCE’s that are related to global health, and are eligible to do 4-year electives in global health.
The Global Health Topics in Action OEE is a student-led elective that is typically attended by 1st and 2nd year medical students, although it is open to residents, faculty, nursing students, and other members of the UMMS community. This OEE typically brings in 6 to 8 speakers on various global health topics. You should receive an email from the student leaders (who are 2nd year UMMS students) within the next few weeks with more details on how to participate.
Can a student ask a UMMS faculty member to serve as their UMMS Elective Advisor for a global health experience, even if that faculty member has not been to the country or institution where the student wants to do a global health experience?
Yes. The UMMS Elective Advisor doesn’t have to have experience in the specific country or institution where the student wants to do an global health experience. Any UMMS faculty can be a UMMS Elective Advisor for a global health experience as long as they are aware of (and agree) to fulfill the responsibilities of a UMMS Elective Advisor for a global health experience, which are described in the Global Health Experience Request (GHER) Form which can be found here: http://umassmed.edu/oume/International-Medical-Education/
For example, a student may want to do spend a month taking immersion language-training classes at a well-established language school in Nicaragua. The UMMS Elective Advisor does not need to have prior experience in Nicaragua or a prior relationship with the language school.
Any UMMS faculty member can act as a UMMS Elective Advisor for a global health experience. Typically, residents and fellows at UMMS are not faculty members, and therefore do not serve in the capacity of being a UMMS Elective Advisor. Adjunct UMMS faculty members can act as UMMS Elective Advisors for a global health experience.
What are the responsibilities of a UMMS faculty member who agrees to be a UMMS Elective Advisor for a student's global health experience?
Any UMMS faculty member who agrees to the responsibilities can serve as a UMMS Elective Advisor for a students' global health experience.
The responsibilities of a UMMS Elective Advisor can be found on the Checklist for UMMS Elective Advisors.
Where can a UMMS medical student interested in doing an international language elective find out more information?
UMMS medical students have done international language electives in the past as a way to improve their ability to care for patients who do not speak English as their primary language. Students interested in a language elective outside of the U.S. can do the following.
- First, identify a school, university or program that provides language training. One resource that may help is the E-scholarship site where UMMS students have provided information about an international experiences in which they participated while at UMMS. Another resource is the document regarding Global Health Opportunities that has been compiled by a UMMS medical student (see the section entitled, "Take a Spanish Course").
- Next, the student should be aware that an international language elective must go through the same process as other global health experiences that take place outside of the U.S. This approval process includes both:
- the student should submit a completed Global Health Experience Request (GHER) Form at least three months prior to the start of the global health experience in order to seek approval from the Office of Undergraduate Medical Education (OUME)
- the student should complete an on-line Office of Global Health (OGH) International Travel Registration in order to seek travel approval from OGH.
As mentioned in the GHER Form, completion of the GHER Form includes
- identifying a UMMS Elective Advisor
- identifying a Supervisor at the Host Institution
- ensuring that there is an appropriate agreement between UMMS and the Host Institution, which – depending on the specifics of each situation – can be either a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), a Letter of Agreement (LOA), or a Global Health Experience Notice (GHEN).
The GHER Form, a hyperlink to OGH's website, and other pertinent information can be found on OUME's International Medical Education webpage.
An excellent source to identify funding opportunities is the Office of Global Health OGH Funding Opportunities website, where you will find a collection of links for student and trainee funding, as well as a list of global health internships and a variety of UMMS program-specific resources.
Specific questions about particular funding sources are best directed to the Office of Global Health at: Globalhealth@umassmed.edu.
Does a student need to go through the approval process for a global health experience even if the student is not seeking credit?
Yes. Any educational global health experience that a UMMS student does (including clinical, research, public health, cultural or language training) must go through the approval process for global health experiences. Even if a student is not seeking credit for a global health experience, UMMS policies require that all global health experiences be approved, and that the UMMS Office of Global Health (OGH) approve of a student's travel.
Are UMMS students allowed to travel to locations that have a travel warning or travel alert from the U.S. State Department or Centers for Disease Control (CDC)?
As per UMMS policy, the medical school typically does not permit school-sponsored travel for UMMS medical students traveling to locations included on the U.S. State Department's website of countries with a travel warning or travel alert, or to locations that carry a CDC warning. Therefore, students should be aware that travel may not be permitted to countries that are listed on the State Department's website, or that have warnings on the CDC website.
If a student does want to propose travel to a location that has a travel warning, then the student should first confer with their UMMS Elective Advisor (or with the UMMS faculty member who would be sponsoring or overseeing the proposed travel).
If the student and UMMS faculty member wish to proceed with proposing travel, then the student should continue with necessary paperwork including the Global Health Education Request (GHER) Form and complete the on-line Office of Global Health (OGH) travel registration for their proposed travel, so that the OGH can review the proposed travel. If the proposed travel is initially denied permission by the OGH, then the student has the option of requesting that the proposed travel be reviewed by the Travel Advisory Review Committee (TARC).
If a student does want such a review, then the student should first confer with their UMMS Elective Advisor (or with the UMMS faculty member who would be sponsoring or overseeing the proposed travel) to ensure that both the student and the UMMS Elective Advisor agree to proceed with a request for review by the TARC.
To initiate the review process, the student must contact the OUME via the on-line UMMS Travel Advisory Review Committee (TARC) Review Request. This online form will allow the opportunity for students to provide addition details about their proposed travel plans. The OUME will request a review by the Travel Advisory Review Committee (TARC) on behalf of the student.
At the time of requesting a review by the TARC, students should also make sure that they have: (1) submitted their Global Health Education Request (GHER) Form to OUME, and (2) submitted the one-page Pre-Travel Authorization to OUME. These documents provide OUME, OGH and TARC with details about the student’s proposed travel plan. The students should also provide copies of any application, program acceptance or similar material related to their proposed travel.
At the request of the OUME, the TARC will review the written information submitted by the student. UMMS faculty members who are knowledgeable about the site location may submit information, and may be contacted by the committee for consultation. Special considerations that may be reviewed by the committee include: travel warnings that are for localized areas; an established UMMS Memorandum of Understanding for the site; and compelling safety information beyond the standard requirements.
In general, the TARC will review requests within 2 working weeks of submission of written materials. A final decision will be communicated to the student and to the UMMS OUME International Medical Education Program within 2 working weeks following the review. This decision is binding, unless new federal warnings are posted or there is a similar change in safety. Students will be notified in writing, by the Office of Global Health.
For every global health experience, there must be an agreement between UMMS and a Host Institution. A Host Institution is the organization, agency, school or entity where the student will be doing the global health experience. (Examples of a Host Institution include: The University in Nicaragua, The World Health Organization, The León Spanish Language School.)
There are three types of agreements between UMMS and a Host Institution:
1. Memorandum of Understanding (MOU): An MOU typically is valid for 3 years.
2. Letter of Agreement (LOA): An LOA typically is valid for 1 year. If a student is doing a global health experience at a new site that recently has not hosted UMMS students, then typically a 1-year LOA is completed prior to considering if the two institutions would like to agree upon an MOU.
3. Global Health ExperienceNotice (GHEN): If a proposed global health experience does not have any clinical activities, and there is not a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or Letter of Agreement (LOA) between UMMS and the Host Institution, then the student can complete a Global Health ExperienceNotice (GHEN) for the proposed global health experience, instead of requesting that UMMS and the Host Institution approve an LOA or MOU. A GHEN is only appropriate for experiences that do not have clinical activities, such as a language training experience. The template GHEN that students can complete are available at the International Medical Education web page.
The GHER Form is the form that students must submit with the necessary signatures to OUME for approval of any global health experience. The form should be submitted by email to Colleen Burnham (Colleen.Burnham@umassmed.edu) in OUME at least three months prior to the experience start date.
A global health experience includes all types of 4th and 5th year electives, including clinical, research, public health, community service, cultural, and language training electives. A global health experience also include experiences such as Flexible Clinical Electives (FCEs) and global health experiences for students in the summer between the 1st and 2nd year of medical school.
The template GHER Form that students can complete are available at the International Medical Education web page.
While on a global health experience, UMMS medical students can complete clinical activities that are appropriate to their level of training, noting that any clinical participation requires supervision. For example, in the summer between 1st and 2nd year of medical school, UMMS students can participate in clinical activities such as taking patient histories and conducting physical examinations, as these skills are things that they have learned during 1st year of medical school.
Observing in a clinical setting (e.g., observing a physician in an outpatient clinic, or in an inpatient hospital) is not a clinical activity as long as the student does not participate in the care.
This guidance is consistent with instructions regarding ANY elective, but in global health settings students may be offered opportunities (due to decreased resources, lack of familiarity with our training system, limited supervision) that go beyond the what is expected of the student at their level of training. As a UMMS medical students, participants in global health settings should be aware of such situations and potential requests for their participation in clinical tasks and activities beyond their scope of training. In such circumstances, students are expected to decline participation and clarify that their engagement in the particular activity goes beyond their scope of training and responsibility. 3.5.2015cjb
Does a student need to get approval for international travel or global health experiences that are done while on leave of absence from UMMS?
As long as there is no chance that you will receive credit or funding from UMMS during your leave of absence, then you do not need to get approval from the Office of Undergraduate Medical Education (OUME) or the Office of Global Health (OGH). Students who are traveling while on a leave of absence should be aware that UMMS liability and travel insurance will not cover them during a leave of absence. If a student participates in clinical activities while on a leave of absence, then it is the student’s responsibility to alert the non-UMMS facility/institution that they are on a leave of absence from UMMS and therefore are not covered by UMMS liability insurance.
If a student does any international travel during a leave of absence, vacation or other non-credit related time period (even if this time is related to a Capstone project), then the student does not need to seek approval from OGH or OUME. In these cases, the student should be aware that UMMS liability and travel insurance will not cover them during this time.
Note: For credit-related international travel activities such as a Flexible Clinical Experience (FCE) or an elective, then the student does need to seek approval from both OGH and OUME.