The International Health Program

The International Health Program (IHP) is a curricular initiative taking place in a number of medical schools across the country. The program requirements are spread out over all four years of medical school, and students who complete those requirements are recognized on their dean's letters and receive a certificate stating that they have completed the IHP.


To prepare culturally competent physicians with an understanding of and appreciation for international problems of health and illness. Students will gain a more complete perspective of existing health care systems and of the practical challenges of delivering care in an international setting.

Program Requirements:

  • Health Care in Developing Countries Elective offered during Year 1: a ten-week course that meets weekly to discuss factors influencing global health. Topics include, but are not limited to: maternal/child health, water and sanitation, war and PTSD, malnutrition, and PTSD, malnutrition, and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Students are also required to present a project on the health care system of a foreign country.
  • Summer Travel Elective: Students are expected to complete a travel elective with an underserved population, domestically or abroad, for a minimum of two weeks. This travel experience must meet current elective criteria and have approval from the Biennium I Elective Sub-committee. A pre-requisite for Summer Travel Elective is the Health Care in Developing Countries course described above or an approved equivalent experience.
  • Health Care in the Global Community Elective offered during Year 2: a monthly seminar based on student-led discussion which meets throughout the year. This elective begins the clinical exploration of the impact of global health. Topics include, but are not limited to: natural disasters, terrorism, health economics, chronic disease management, epidemiology of global health, and the relationship that exists between the United States and the rest of the world (research, pharmaceuticals, and foreign aid).
  • Extramural International Travel Elective: Students are expected to complete a four week travel elective with an underserved population, domestically or abroad in their 4th year. This rotation must be approved by the Biennium 2 Elective Committee and Office of Student Affairs, and must fulfill the current elective requirements.

Because the IHP is part of the medical school curriculum, students who are enrolled in the International Health Program are eligible for additional financial aid to assist with travel electives. IHP participants may request a budget increase for travel costs, up to a maximum of $3,000 over the four years of medical school. Contact the Office of Student Affairs for information about the program. The budget increase request must be submitted to the Office of Student Affairs in advance of the travel experience.

Students participating in the IHP are often involved in the student club, GHI. However, students do not have to be a member IHP to be a member of GHI and vice versa. Participation in the IHP requires that students sign the IHP contract by the Winter Electives Options Deadline (usually in mid-December of the first year of medical school). This is the only opportunity to sign the contract, and doing so indicates a student's intent to complete the requirements outlined above for the IHP program. That being said, if a student signs the contract they may choose to leave the program at a later date.

Travel abroad is not restricted to students in the IHP. However, students must complete the first year elective, Health Care in Developing Countries as a pre-requisite in order to receive elective credit for travel.