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Int J Med Educ. 2018 Jul 27;9:206-212. doi: 10.5116/ijme.5b40.6e4b.

Host clinical preceptors' perceptions of professionalism among learners completing global health electives.

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Division of Emergency Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, USA.
University of Utah, Department of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.
Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.
Baylor College of Medicine Children's Foundation Lesotho, Maseru, Lesotho.
Baylor College of Medicine Children's Foundation Malawi, Lilongwe, Malawi.



This study aims to gain an understanding of the perceptions of host clinical preceptors in Malawi and Lesotho of the professionalism exhibited by short-term learners from the United States and Canada during short-term global health electives.


Focus group discussions were conducted with 11 host clinical preceptors at two outpatient pediatric HIV clinics in sub-Saharan Africa (Malawi and Lesotho). These clinics host approximately 50 short-term global health learners from the United States and Canada each year. Focus group moderators used open-ended discussion guides to explore host clinical preceptors' perceptions of the professionalism of short-term global health learners. Thematic analysis with an inductive approach was used to identify salient themes from these focus group discussions.


Eleven of the 18 possible respondents participated in two focus group discussions. Adaptability, eagerness to learn, active listening, gratitude, initiative, and punctuality was cited as professional behaviors among short-term global health learners. Cited unprofessional behaviors included disregard of local clinicians' expertise and unresponsiveness to feedback. Host clinical preceptors described difficulty providing feedback to short-term global health learners and discrepancies between what may be considered professional in their home setting versus in the study settings. Respondents requested pre-departure orientation for learners and their own orientation before hosting learners.


Both host clinical preceptors and short-term global health learners should be aware that behaviors that may be considered best practice in one clinical setting may be perceived as unprofessional in another. Future studies to develop a common definition of professionalism during short-term global health electives are merited.


global health; host perspective; medical education; professionalism; sub-saharan africa

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