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Use the resources below to plan and prepare for your global health experience.

Please note that you should submit the Pre-Departure Checklist at least two weeks before departure. If you have questions, please email Elizabeth Rose.

Travel Approval Process (updated August 18, 2023)

Students in the School of Medicine (including MD and other medical master and doctoral degrees such as public health and pharmacology) need to submit an application to be approved for travel. At least 30-90 days prior to intended travel, please submit the Student application for international travel in the Vanderbilt School of Medicine. It may take 2-4 weeks for a travel approval decision to be made. Please do not purchase tickets or make reservations until final approval is received. Approval will remain contingent on the risk level of the countries you will be traveling in and through.

For students in other Schools, before planning travel or registering in a global health course or international activity with travel please review the US State Department’s Travel Advisories and the CDC’s Travel Health Notices. If your destination country has a travel or health advisory of a level 3 or 4, you must submit a “Request for Exception to Travel.” More information can be found here. Please do not purchase tickets or make reservations until final approval is received.

Pre-Departure Modules

Engaging in global health experiences can be exciting but before leaving it is important to understand the cultural context in which you be working and the ethics that surround short-term medical “missions.” Many well-intentioned students have inadvertently caused harm to communities during their global health engagements and being able to recognize these issues will help you to avoid such problems and to have a productive global health experience.

Our Pre-Departure page includes modules that are designed to provide an introduction and orientation to fieldwork in global health. Many of them were initially created and compiled as part of a Vanderbilt University School of Medicine fourth-year immersion course called “Delivering Primary Care in Resource-Limited Settings” and have been key components of pre-departure curricula for many subsequent courses.

Travel Health Resources

Our Travel Health Resources page includes information about insurance, Vanderbilt health clinics, and other resources regarding pre-travel, travel, and post-travel health.

Safety Resources

Our Safety Resources page includes information about Vanderbilt’s travel safety requirements for students, U.S. government recommended travel safety resources, and how to find out/what to do if you’re travelling to a country on a restricted travel list. Be sure to review the Pandemic guidance for international travel webpage.

Conducting International Research

Several months (e.g., 6-9 months) prior to conducting international research, it’s important to begin the processes to obtain ethics approval and data use agreement for your study. You will need ethics approval from the local ethics committee, Vanderbilt IRB approval (this application requires the local ethics committee approval letter), and a data use agreement to be able to transport data across country borders (including quantitative and qualitative data, regardless of being stored on a computer desktop, in the cloud, or on online servers). Our International Research page provides information on these processes.

Country Specific Resources

Understanding the country and region in which you will be working and living is vital. On our Country Specific Resources page we have compiled information to help students begin learning about common countries where Vanderbilt students have been engaged in global health experiences.

Medical Spanish Resources

There are many Medical Spanish Resources available to help you learn how to communicate better with your patients.