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Am J Surg. 2013 Aug;206(2):280-6. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2012.10.034. Epub 2013 Feb 26.

International surgical clerkship rotation: perceptions and academic performance.

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Emory University School of Medicine, 1648 Pierce Dr NE, Atlanta, GA 30307, USA.



Concerns about international training experiences in medical school curricula include the effect on student learning. We studied the educational effect of an international elective integrated into a traditional third-year (M3) surgical clerkship.


A 1-week surgical elective in Haiti was available to M3 students during the conventional 8-week surgical clerkship each year for the 4 academic years 2008 to 2011. The authors collected student and surgeon perceptions of the elective using a mixed-methods web-based survey. Statistical analysis compared the academic performance of participating M3s relative to nonparticipating peers.


Twenty-eight (100%) students (41 trip weeks) and 3 (75%) surgeons responded. Twenty-five (89%) students believed the elective provided appropriate clinical training. Surgeon responses were consistent with students' reported perceptions. Strengths included unique clinical experiences and close interactions with faculty. Criticisms included recurring overwhelming clinical responsibilities and lack of local provider involvement. Academic performance of participants versus nonparticipants in the same clerkship term were statistically insignificant.


This study demonstrates the feasibility of integrating global health experiences into traditional medical student clinical curricula. The effects on less tangible attributes such as leadership skills, fostering teamwork, and cultural competency require future investigation.


Global health; Global surgery; Medical student education; Surgical education

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