Global Health Program - Curriculum

Program Goals and Objectives

Southern California is a culturally diverse region that attracts immigrants from around the globe. This immigrant population is expected to grow over time. It is known that health physicians, who participate in medical volunteerism in impoverished areas abroad, are more likely to continue the care of underserved communities back home, with a better understanding and increased sensitivity to its cultural needs. Medical electives abroad enrich the cultural competence of the participant by directly immersing them in the patient’s environment and giving them a deeper understanding of their community. It also improves the understanding of physicians regarding global health conditions that frequently affect immigrant populations in Southern California such as tuberculosis and chronic hepatitis.

The knowledge gained from these medical electives abroad provides exposure and insight into how other countries address the need for affordable and accessible health care. As medical supplies and diagnostic testing are often quite limited, participants gain a level of confidence in managing patients within communities with limited resources.  In addition, some patients from these communities may also have low health literacy leading to difficulty following treatment plans. These experiences can translate back to Southern California where immigrant populations in underserved communities may continue to exhibit similar patterns within the health care system. By allowing our resident physicians and staff the opportunity to experience the practice of community medicine beyond the United States, they gain a greater sense of understanding and appreciation for the barriers that some communities face.

The goals of our program are to provide health care experiences outside the United States where our residents will work with either American or host faculty mentors in the clinic or hospital setting to gain experience in practicing medicine in remote and underserved communities. Residents will learn the various barriers that patients encounter when attempting to access medical care and services. Where applicable, residents will learn specific topics on the management of infectious disease and tropical medicine unique to their host country.

Global Health Core Competences

Our program will incorporate the following Global Health Core Competencies into its electives:

Patient Care:

  • Learn to take histories and conduct physical examinations appropriate for foreign locations
  • Provide culturally sensitive care to patients and families
  • Apply “whole patient” care taking into account the culture of the community
  • Learn to use appropriate laboratory and diagnostic studies in different healthcare systems
  • Participate in health promotion and disease prevention in low resource settings

Medical Knowledge:

  • Gain knowledge of unique medical conditions in the community served
  • Learn how culture impacts a patient’s response and compliance to medical recommendations
  • Learn to use appropriate treatment options available to the community

Interpersonal Skills and Communication:

  • Learn about cultural differences which affect health care
  • Demonstrate effectiveness in communicating with patients and families
  • Learn adaptive skills to allow effective participation as a member of the local health care team
  • Learn to work with interpreters to educate and counsel patients and their families

Practice Based Learning:

  • Share and facilitate education of local health care physicians
  • Learn to acquire medical knowledge in different teaching environments
  • Standardize guidelines and protocols for the diagnosis and treatment of conditions common to the local population, and adapt them to individual needs of the patients


  • Demonstrate a commitment to professional behavior in interactions with staff from different cultures and various communities
  • Demonstrate sensitivity to patient and professional culture
  • Demonstrate awareness of cultural norms and laws within the country
  • Demonstrate awareness of responsibilities in order to stay within scope of practice

System Based Learning:

  • Learn to practice quality health care within the visiting area’s health care system
  • Learn to analyze local health care systems for opportunities to enhance patient care
  • Demonstrate the ability to appropriately improve a different health care system