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Med Teach. 2017 Aug 28:1-10. doi: 10.1080/0142159X.2017.1361518. [Epub ahead of print]

Graduate medical education competencies for international health electives: A qualitative study.

Author information

a Internal Medicine , Mayo Clinic , Rochester , MN , USA.
b Department of Family Medicine , Mayo Clinic , Rochester , MN , USA.
c Division of General Internal Medicine , Mayo Clinic , Rochester , MN , USA.



Residency programs offer international health electives (IHEs), providing multiple educational benefits. This study aimed to identify how IHEs fulfill the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) core competencies.


We conducted a thematic analysis of post-rotation reflective reports from residents who participated in IHEs through the Mayo International Health Program. We coded reports using a codebook created from the ACGME competencies. Using a constant comparative method, we identified significant themes within each competency.


Residents from 40 specialties participated in 377 IHEs in 56 countries from 2001 to 2014. Multiple themes were identified within each of the six ACGME core competencies: Patient Care and Procedural Skills (4), Medical Knowledge (5), Practice-Based Learning and Improvement (3), Interpersonal and Communication Skills (5), Professionalism (4), and Systems-Based Practice and Improvement (3). Themes included improving physical exam and procedural skills, providing care in resource-limited setting, gaining knowledge of tropical and non-tropical diseases, identifying socioeconomic determinants of health, engaging in the education of others, and increasing communication across cultures and multidisciplinary teams.


Through IHEs, residents advanced their knowledge, skills, and attitudes in each of the six ACGME competencies. These data can be used for development of IHE competencies and milestones for resident assessment.

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