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  • Appreciate the landscape of global health education for health science and other trainees
  • Describe global health workforce challenges and opportunities
  • Define competencies of global health education and structural models for educational programs

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The multifaceted, interdisciplinary nature of global health makes for a field that has many career and educational paths leading into and stemming from it. In the last decade many health disciplines and programs have embraced global health education. This embrace has come in the forms of global health content and pathways, educational competencies, and consensus of the globalization of health science education. Despite the increasing popularity of global health education and careers, there are still many hurdles to fully actualizing this globalization. Central challenges include ensuring that global engagement occurs in an ethical fashion and garnering sustainable institutional support. Increasingly there is recognition of the necessity for interdisciplinary approaches to global health issues, which contrasts with the traditional discipline-specific silos in academic settings. There has been an emergence of organizations and schools dedicated to cutting across these silos and increasing academic institutions’ relevance in the area of global health engagement, specifically in the areas of education, research, service, and advocacy.1

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There are a variety of global health program structures, content, and focus within health science and public health schools. Many Westerners who discuss global health education are referring to training students from the global north about health and health determinants in the global south. The north is the collective term for economically developed, industrialized countries, whereas the south refers to low- and middle-income countries.2 Many of these educational approaches are based on empirical evidence or impact on trainees, without attention to impact on the low-resource community hosts. There is a need for research and program development in the areas of true interdisciplinary educational engagement, program sustainability, impact on host communities, as well as cost effectiveness. Furthermore, the best use of Western professionals in global health circles is still not clear. Although some education programs encourage Westerners to be direct care providers, others see the roles as advocates and empowerment agents as more appropriate and sustainable. Lastly, there is considerable development of global health education that is occurring with south-south collaborations and within countries that show promise of developing a sustainable global health workforce.

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Two pivotal reports provide impetus for and evidence of the momentum in global health education. The Lancet commission, Education for Health Professionals for the 21st Century, produced a 2010 report to examine the state of health education worldwide and propose needed actions to address the “collective failure to share the dramatic health advances equitably.”3 The commission shared this vision:

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All health professionals in all countries should be educated to mobilize knowledge and to engage in critical reasoning and ethical conduct so that they are competent to participate in patient and population-centered health systems as members of locally responsive and globally connected teams. The ...

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