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Preparing for an International Health Elective: Exploring Global Health, Ethics and Safety

Prepare for undertaking an International Health Elective, in this course developed in collaboration with King's College London

12,130 enrolled on this course

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Preparing for an International Health Elective: Exploring Global Health, Ethics and Safety

12,130 enrolled on this course

  • 3 weeks

  • 2 hours per week

  • Accreditation available

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Intermediate level

Find out more about how to join this course

The CPD Certification Service

This course has been certified by the CPD Certification Service as conforming to continuing professional development principles. Find out more.

International health electives (IHEs) are highly variable, student-organised placements that offer important opportunities for student-directed learning about health and healthcare in unfamiliar contexts. They enable medical and healthcare students to take responsibility for their own learning and to explore areas of interest relevant to future careers.

However, there is evidence to suggest that international health electives do not always deliver the learning outcomes anticipated and that pre-elective learning can help to ensure a valuable and productive experience. This free online course, developed as a collaboration between King’s College London and St George’s, University of London, is aimed at learners currently studying in medical or healthcare disciplines and considering taking an IHE. On the course you will learn how you might avoid negative experiences and ensure that doing an IHE would be both valuable and productive, should you decide to undertake an elective yourself.

Understand the issues surrounding IHEs

On this course you’ll explore some of the problems that may be experienced during IHEs, including: working beyond competence, consumption of scarce host resources, suboptimal supervision, and risks to the health of students and the patients they see. We will present examples of student experiences with opportunities to discuss the choices and courses of action available, and guidelines to support decision-making when faced with challenging circumstances.

Learn how to get the most out of an IHE

In an already crowded medical school curriculum this free online course offers flexible learning to prepare you for undertaking your own IHE. Touching upon complex issues of ethics and professionalism, global health and clinical practice, the course aims to provide you with the information that you need to maximise the positive aspects and mitigate the negative elements of international health electives.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 12 seconds Health professionals are increasingly working and studying and training around the world. And health care students are increasingly doing so as well. Electives are student-organized placements. And because student interest are so diverse, electives are equally diverse. For some people, electives really are transformative and can define their career choices. However, there are a number of pitfalls and challenges associated with electives. Some of them are clinical. Some of them are ethical. Some of them are legal. The course includes a significant amount of global health, which is really important to help students understand how different health systems work and how the social determinants of health contribute to the types of health care need that present at health systems.

Skip to 1 minute and 0 seconds We will also give them the tools to stay safe on clinical placement abroad. And fundamentally, we hope that students who are going to go on an elective will feel more prepared and will enjoy the experience more as a consequence.

What topics will you cover?

  • Understanding digital professionalism
  • Working beyond competence
  • Bringing gifts and dealing with scarcity
  • The impact of language barriers
  • Global Health and the Social Determinants of Health
  • Staying safe: Managing risk inside and outside the clinical environment
  • Health infrastructures and systems
  • Voluntourism
  • Experiencing different professional cultures

Who is this accredited by?

The CPD Certification Service
The CPD Certification Service:

The CPD Certification Service was established in 1996 and is the leading independent CPD accreditation institution operating across industry sectors to complement the CPD policies of professional and academic bodies.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Demonstrate awareness of professional guidance on digital professionalism and be able to apply this to communications on electives.
  • Identify clinical procedures that it will be appropriate for you to undertake on your elective and those that are not.
  • Identify ethical issues that you are likely to encounter on your electives and adopt a structured approach to developing a response.
  • Recognise the importance of linguistic barriers on elective experiences and take steps to mitigate these.
  • Discuss from the global perspective the determinants of health and disease and variations in healthcare delivery and medical practice.
  • Identify the occupational health risks associated with planned electives, including the risk of body fluid exposure, and identify strategies to mitigate these risks.
  • Recognise that health systems are structured and function differently across the globe.
  • Discuss the essential components of a health system using the World Health Organisation (WHO) model.
  • Discuss the role of voluntourism in relation to international health electives.
  • Understand the challenges of working across professional cultures.

Who is the course for?

This course is primarily aimed at those currently studying in medical or healthcare disciplines and who are considering undertaking an International Health Elective as part of their training.

Who will you learn with?

I am a senior lecturer at the Kings Centre for Global Health where I lead the MSc and iBSc in global health. I am the elective's lead for GKT School of Medicine.

I am a Senior Lecturer in Medical Ethics and Law at St George's, University of London. I have studied medicine, philosophy and medical education. I have also completed a PhD in Law.

Fawzia is a Teaching Fellow at the King’s Centre for Global Health

Who developed the course?

St George's, University of London

St George’s is the UK’s only university dedicated to medical and health sciences education, training and research.

King's College London

King’s College London, established in 1829 and a founding college of the University of London, is one of the world’s leading research and teaching universities, based in the very heart of London.

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Buy this course

$109/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Subscribe & save

$349.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 14 Aug 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

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  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
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  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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