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Yes! Defined learning objectives and competency development goals are important, here's why... 

Review the learning objectives/competencies and consider if they are aligned with your goals and are appropriate for your level of proficiency

Global Health Learning Outcomes: Guidance on identifying personal learning objectives related to issues in global health. These learning outcomes may be inspired by the list of recommended global health competencies outlined in Johnson et al. (2012) ‘Proposed global health learning outcomes for medical students’ (+ supplementary web appendix), and Global Health Competencies for 21st Century Health Professionals in Jogerst et al. (2015) ‘Identifying Interprofessional Global Health Competencies for 21st-Century Health Professionals’, as well the specific global health context of the elective program.    

  • Keep in mind that health competencies are much more comprehensive than just clinical practice/service, so programs that provide broader learning objectives more accurately represent competencies being established and accepted by a variety of professional/educational bodies within the field of global health.                                       

  • Also, be aware that there are defined levels of proficiency in global health and respect a stepwise process and appropriate learning curve.  This is necessary to recognize the complexity of global health realities, as well as the required proficiency in order to be an effective, ethical, appropriate professional and collaborator.                                            

  • Be cautious about clinical efforts that rely solely on outsiders and are not integrated into local health systems.  Practices that are frowned upon include “Duffle Bag Medicine” and medical supplies donation that does not follow World Health Organization (WHO) best practices.                                                                                                                                              

Follow-up assessment and evaluation: May take several forms (e.g. electives report, essay, presentation, written exams, etc.) and should encourage critical reflection on the elective experience (critical reflection goes beyond journaling and has us consider how experiences will influence our perspectives and behavior going forward). These activities should be supported by an experienced professional in the field (both at your home institution and at the international elective host institution).  Such activities demonstrate understanding of the learning outcomes identified and tied to the elective.

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