The Feinberg School of Medicine’s Center for Global Health establishes the following policy for Feinberg students participating in all clinical away-rotations and medical education programs at international sites, which became effective January, 2011 and was revised January, 2018.
- Checklist for global health experiences for FSM students
- Approval form for unaffiliated global health sites
Common Preparation Requirements for Global Health Rotations/Programs
I. Education programs for academic credit vs. vacation
In order to obtain academic credit for an international clinical rotation or research elective, each of the application and preparation steps detailed in this policy must be completed in advance of the rotation. Rotations at international settings not previously approved by the Center for Global Health and Dean’s Administration (in accordance with the steps below) are considered vacation/non-school sanctioned travel.
Rotations that may be considered for academic credit include approved clinical elective rotations, Area of Scholarly Concentration and International Health Fellowship research projects, long-term Global Health Initiative fellowships, and public health field experiences at any one of the global partner institutions or similar rotations at any independent international institutions.
All international rotations that provide academic credit must be formally approved in advance of the rotation by the process outlined in this policy. Rotations or other international programs not approved via this process are considered vacation/non-school sanctioned travel.
An affiliated institution/site is defined as any university, teaching hospital, medical school, clinic, and/or nonprofit or nongovernmental organization, either foreign or domestic, that has a formal legal agreement or signed memo of understanding with Northwestern University.
An independent institution/site is defined as any university, teaching hospital, medical school, clinic, and/or nonprofit or nongovernmental organization, either foreign or domestic, that does not have a formal legal agreement or signed memo of understanding with Northwestern University.
II. General Considerations
The Center for Global Health (CGH) at the Feinberg School of Medicine (FSM) in conjunction with Dean’s Administration retains the right to review, approve and/or deny clinical electives, research and public health projects, and/or medical education programs at both affiliated and independent institutions at international sites for all medical trainees including medical, physical therapy, physician assistant and all other FSM students as well as FSM student organizations. A committee will be formed of FSM faculty and administrators to review, approve, suspend, and/or deny school-sponsored global health education proposals. This policy is in place to ensure standard criteria are met regarding safety, risk and liability, sustainability and organizational mission, and proper supervision by a licensed medical professional in accordance with Illinois and local requirements.
In order to receive academic credit and/or funding for a clinical rotation at an affiliated or independent site, approvals must be received in advance from both the clinical clerkship director/faculty supervisor and the Center for Global Health and all steps below must be complete. To receive academic credit and/or funding for a research rotation at an affiliated or independent site, approvals must be received in advance from both the FSM faculty supervisor and the Center for Global Health and all steps below must be complete.
Short-term medical missions, non-approved research or volunteer work, and other non-credit programs where students do not receive credit and which are not supported by FSM funding are considered vacation /non-school sanctioned travel.
Approved international rotations for research or clinical education must be a minimum of four consecutive weeks in duration. Special exceptions to this minimum duration will be considered for unique professional development opportunities, such as select academic conferences and research projects for FSM students, to be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Center for Global Health and Dean’s Administration.
In order to be eligible for elective credit or FSM funding for an international clinical rotation, public health and/or research project at an independent institution, FSM students must be supervised by an appropriately licensed medical professional in accordance with Illinois law and/or with the state and/or country where the off-site rotation will occur.
III. Education programs at Global Health Partners (affiliated sites) – FSM students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the university’s official global partners
- Review application checklist
- Schedule advising meeting with Associate Director, Global Health Education (CGH)
- Complete CGH online application
- Submit letter of good standing from Registrar’s Office
- Submit proof of primary care health insurance & passport
- Register for GeoBlue international travel insurance
- Visit travel clinic as necessary
- Submit FSM personal health form
- Submit FSM travel waiver form
- Review FSM Student Handbook for Global Health
- Complete CGH pre-departure preparation process:
- Attend at minimum two, in-person global health seminars
- Complete online orientation tool
- Submit a 2-3 page analytic memo on a local health issue
- Acquire away elective evaluation from on-site preceptor (M3s/M4s)
- Request elective credit from Global Health Elective Director prior to travel
- Complete CGH online evaluation (upon return)
IV. Education programs at non-Global Health Partners/Independent International Sites
Although rotations at global health partners are recommended, research and clinical rotations at independent institutions outside the US will be considered if they a) provide professional development opportunities in health related fields not otherwise readily available at FSM or with FSM affiliated partners in Chicago or abroad; and b) the independent institution has a mission that relates to the health professions and emphasizes improving public, community, and/or global health.
New proposals will be considered by a global health committee on a case-by-case basis and should contain distinction from current rotations available at FSM partner universities. Formal approval by the Committee and Dean’s Administration must be received prior to departure.
Rotations at non-affiliated sites that do not provide or have acceptable research and/or educational content, supervision, infrastructure, safety procedures and policies, or are of limited duration of less than four-weeks will not be approved.
V. Education Programs in Countries with US. State Department Travel Advisories
Elective rotations, research and public health projects, and any other international education programs will generally not be approved in countries with U.S. State Department Travel Advisory Levels 3 or 4 due to safety concerns. In the case of specific partner institutions located in countries with travel advisories with whom Northwestern University has an established relationship and a signed memorandum of understanding, an appeal to the Feinberg Study Abroad Risk Assessment Committee may be made, however there is not guarantee this will be granted as appeals will be judged on a case-by-case basis. This committee, jointly run by FSM and the Center for Global Health, considers proposals reviews safety and security issues, and assesses the academic merit of the program(s). This committee will make final decisions regarding international rotations for all FSM students, residents and fellows. Independent student proposals in any country with a U.S. State Department Travel Advisory Level 3 or 4 will not be considered. Countries with Travel Advisory Level 2 will be considered, however final approval by the Center for Global Health and the Vice Dean of Education (students) or Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education (residents/fellows) is required.
VI. Insurance and Liability
All FSM students are required to meet the standards and laws set by local, state, and/or national regulations that apply to the independent institution to ensure that all proper licensure and insurance requirements are met before any clinical or research rotation begins. Particular attention should be given to requirements for medical licenses, registration with the ministry of health, liability insurance, etc.
All FSM students are required to register for Drum Cussac travel service and GeoBlue international student health insurance, which are available to all Northwestern University students, faculty, fellows, and staff, before participating in a global health rotation/program. In addition, all FSM students are expected to enroll in the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at https://step.state.gov/step/
All FSM students are required to sign the “Travel Waiver” form before participating in an off-site rotation and submit this to the Center for Global Health.
VII. Health, Safety and Security
FSM places great importance on the safety and security of its students. Proper contingency planning and risk assessment must be made and documented detailing what emergency medical and transportation facilities and resources exist within the community where a FSM student plans to complete the off-site rotation/program.
FSM students will comply with the posted Guidelines for Blood-borne Pathogen Exposure and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis at Global Health Field Sites
Feinberg students should consult with their primary care physician and are required to make proper preparations and obtain appropriate medical resources regarding their personal health before travel. In addition to a visit to a primary care physician, these preparations may include a visit to an authorized travel clinic for consultation, review of prior immunization records, review of the host country’s entrance requirements particularly regarding immunizations, and ensuring that there will be access to prescription medications and care for emergencies and/or pre-existing conditions. Students will submit a signed Personal Health Form to CGH before travel.
For More Information:
Center for Global Health
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
645. N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1058
Chicago, IL 60611