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The benefits of international health experiences for Australian and New Zealand medical education

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Embracing structured international health experiences in mainstream medical education is critical to the development of future doctors

Globalisation has dramatically changed and continues to change the way the world works. Societies, businesses and individuals are increasingly adapting to a world with fewer borders and geographical constraints than in the past.1 Global health has been defined as:

an area for study, research and practice that places a priority on improving health and achieving health equity for all people worldwide, [which] emphasises transnational health issues, determinants and solutions; involves many disciplines between and beyond the health sciences; and synthesises population-based prevention with individual-level care.2

Despite the emergence and establishment of global health as an academic discipline, it largely resides within public health education and practice, and is typically taught and learnt within Master of Public Health programs, rather than through experiences within mainstream medical education. In Australian and New Zealand medical programs, clinical learning with a global health focus is generally achieved through the inclusion of clinical placement electives that permit student-initiated and organised international health experiences (IHEs).2 In cases…