International health electives (IHEs) are highly variable, student-organised placements that offer important opportunities for student-directed learning about health and healthcare in unfamiliar contexts. They enable medical and healthcare students to take responsibility for their own learning and to explore areas of interest relevant to future careers.
However, there is evidence to suggest that international health electives do not always deliver the learning outcomes anticipated and that pre-elective learning can help to ensure a valuable and productive experience. This free online course, developed as a collaboration between King’s College London and St George’s, University of London, is aimed at learners currently studying in medical or healthcare disciplines and considering taking an IHE. On the course you will learn how you might avoid negative experiences and ensure that doing an IHE would be both valuable and productive, should you decide to undertake an elective yourself.
Understand the issues surrounding IHEs
On this course you’ll explore some of the problems that may be experienced during IHEs, including: working beyond competence, consumption of scarce host resources, suboptimal supervision, and risks to the health of students and the patients they see. We will present examples of student experiences with opportunities to discuss the choices and courses of action available, and guidelines to support decision-making when faced with challenging circumstances.
Learn how to get the most out of an IHE
In an already crowded medical school curriculum this free online course offers flexible learning to prepare you for undertaking your own IHE. Touching upon complex issues of ethics and professionalism, global health and clinical practice, the course aims to provide you with the information that you need to maximise the positive aspects and mitigate the negative elements of international health electives.
This course is primarily aimed at those currently studying in medical or healthcare disciplines and who are considering undertaking an International Health Elective as part of their training.
Fawzia Gibson-Fall, Carwyn Hooper and Paula Baraitser