Why should I go abroad to study global health?

The global health experience can no longer be considered an elective in medical education but rather one that is absolutely required. Preparing tomorrow’s physicians is not just about being able to recognize exotic infectious diseases and skin disorders in the medically disadvantaged; more importantly it is a strong awareness of the connectedness we all share in today’s increasingly complex cultures, economics and political world. At Des Moines University, all of our students have the opportunity to learn how to not only recognize those complexities of global health but also be a part of the solution.

What opportunities are available at DMU?

There are two different opportunities available depending on how far along you are in your training. During your first and second year, we offer medical service trip opportunities. During the clinical years (fourth year), you’ll have the opportunity to travel abroad as an elective rotation.

What is the duration of the program?

Global health experiences vary based on students’ interests. Opportunities range from short medical service trips to extended length international clerkships. A student may receive graduation credits for international rotations during their fourth year. An international rotation can only be scheduled as an elective rotation and may be from one week up to eight weeks long. The maximum number of international rotation weeks eligible for graduation credit is eight weeks.

Do I need to fill out an application form?

For a medical service trip, there is an application/interview process. For an elective rotation, the rotation site you are traveling to may require that you fill out an application. In this case, you would work directly with the group or hospital for the application process.

How does DMU choose the participants?

For medical service trips, a limited number of students are interviewed and selected depending on application and interview. For rotations, any student is eligible; however, some rotation sites have their own limitations. Other sites have an application process of their own and choose participants based on their own criteria.

How is the language barrier handled?

Knowing the language of the country you are traveling to is important, and for some sites it is a requirement. If you do not know any other language, you may be better off finding a site that is English speaking. Keep in mind that DMU offers a Spanish language elective course. 


What are the costs of the program, and what’s included?

The cost of the program will depend mainly on the location of the rotation. Also, there may be additional fees depending on the organization you go through.

Does DMU offer any scholarships or grants?

Currently, we do not offer any scholarships or grants for international rotations through the global health department.

What is the course of action for doing an international rotation?

To plan an international rotation, it is required that you begin at least six months ahead of the time you want to leave for your elective. The first thing you need to do is to decide on a location. After a site has been selected, you will want to contact the global health department to get started with the paperwork. The required paperwork needed for your file is outlined in the student checklist.

After the global health department has all of the required paperwork and all coursework is complete, your request is reviewed by the associate dean of global health for approval. After the rotation is approved, your clinical coordinator will be contacted and the rotation will be put on your schedule.

Keep in mind that an international rotation must be approved through the global health department three months before the start of the rotation.

What locations are available for rotations?

View the list of available rotation sites.

What year is this option available?

International rotations are scheduled as elective rotations during your clinical years. Students will be able to travel on an international rotation during their fourth year up to a maximum of eight weeks.

Does my college (COM, CHS, CPMS) offer international rotations?

Any student at DMU can take advantage of traveling abroad for a rotation. However, due to accreditation requirements, there are some restrictions that will need to be worked out. Speak to your clinical coordinator if you have further questions regarding accreditation requirements.

What types of accommodations are available while in the programs?

Accommodations will vary widely depending on the location of the rotation.

What vaccinations do I need?

Some vaccines require weeks or even months to become effective and preplanning is crucial. If you have questions about the vaccines required for your trip, check out the Center for Disease Control (CDC)’s website or contact the DMU medical clinic at 515-271-1710.

What kind of insurance do I need?

For any overseas rotation, you are required to have medical insurance while abroad. Check with your current medical insurance carrier to make sure that you are covered. If not, one carrier that we recommend can be found at http://www.traveldocs.com/insurance.htm

DMU does provide you with ‘travel and evacuation coverage’ from Worldwide Assistance Services, Inc. This service will cover you while you are out of the country if you require a referral to a hospital/doctor, you are hospitalized, you need to be evacuated, you need to guarantee payment for medical expenses or you experience local communication problems. It is NOT health insurance coverage.

For malpractice insurance coverage, DMU policies will cover you for both professional and personal liability if a case is brought in a U.S. court.

What free time will I have on the program?

This will depend on the physician in charge and the type of rotation/trip you have decided to be a part of. You will probably be seeing many more patients than you normally would so time will be limited. However, we do encourage you to do some sightseeing and experience the culture while you are there.

What are some important deadlines for me to keep in mind?

  • Please plan your rotation at least six months in advance. The rotation needs to be approved no later than three months before the start date.
  • Plan enough time ahead for any immunization boosters.
  • Clinical affairs requires that the clinical request form must be submitted to them 45 days in advance to the start of the rotation. Cancelling an international rotation will not be allowed within 30 days of the start of the rotation.