Global Health Research Ethics, Part 1: Gaining Experience

Students considering what to do during their summer break in medical school or public health school often face a dilemma in choosing what to do. The commonly held belief is that in order to build your resume, you must undertake a research project. Volunteering for a global health program, either focused on provision of medical care or public health oriented, is perceived as the weaker choice, one that won’’t look as good to your future employers.
There are several underlying reasons for this perception, for example, many employers come from a more traditional perspective and were trained prior to the proliferation of global health opportunities. They and their peers may not have had similar experiences and may not identify with how formative or educational they can be, or be familiar with the types of skills that can be gained through participation. Another reason for trepidation is that the quality of global health opportunities is so widely variable, and many loosely organized and informal programs exist. Nearly anyone can get in to a global health volunteer program of some sort, as long as they are willing to pay, since such programs serve as income generation mechanisms for many nonprofit organizations or may be run by students on an ad hoc basis, with little selectivity.

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