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Pre-Departure Modules

Global health experiences can be exciting, but it is important to understand the cultural context you are working in and the ethics of short-term medical “missions.” Many well-intentioned students have inadvertently caused harm to communities during their global health engagements.

The following modules provide an introduction and orientation to fieldwork in global health to help you avoid any problems in your experience abroad. Here is the most recent version of the predeparture curriculum updated by VIGH student interns.

ER  Traveling Abroad: Culture Shock

Elizabeth Rose , M.Ed., M.P.H.
Training and Development Coordinator
Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health

Culture shock can happen to anyone, regardless of how seasoned the traveler may be. This presentation reviews the stages of culture shock and provides suggestions for coping strategies.

The following websites are useful resources to find more information about a country and its people, history, and culture:

ERInternational Travel Orientation

Elizabeth Rose , M.Ed., M.P.H.
Training and Development Coordinator
Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health
This presentation is designed for students engaging in global health internships, practica, ISCs, research, and other learning experiences in international lower-resourced settings. It covers important health and safety precautions to take both before and during the trip.

ERProfessionalism and Ethics in Global Health Experiences

Elizabeth Rose , M.Ed., M.P.H.
Training and Development Coordinator
Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health

This presentation is designed for students engaging in global health experiences abroad. This video reviews subtle actions that can unintentionally be unprofessional and offers suggestions on ways to avoid such behaviors. Ethical photography is also included.

  • International Development and Photography Ethics – Before taking photos of patients, community members, and others during your immersion experience, consider the purpose of your photo and the message you will be conveying to your audience. Are you presenting others in their best form? Are you engaging in ‘photo tourism’? Read more here.

First, Do No Harm: A Qualitative Research Documentary

This qualitative research documentary explores the ethics of global health clinical electives and volunteer projects in developing regions. It features interviews from experts and global health providers from Europe, Africa, Asia, North and South America. It is intended for use in Pre-Departure Training for students and volunteers participating in overseas projects.

In addition to these modules developed at Vanderbilt, there are many high-quality resources from other institutions that will help prepare you for your time abroad. We recommend these resources: