Do you GASP? How pre-health students delivering babies in Africa is quickly becoming consequentially unacceptable

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Published in The Advisor, this article by Jessica Evert MD, Tricia Todd MPH, and Peggy Zitek PhD focuses on the topic of pre-health students clamoring for international experiences especially in low and middle-income countries (abbreviated LMICs; also referred to as “developing countries”). Students’ motivations include bolstering medical and other health professions school applications, the desire for hands-on patient care experience, and in a misguided sense of wanting to help others by providing medical care. Despite US Department of Justice affiliated guidelines that undergraduate students placed in health-related settings abroad “[limit] their patient-interaction to the same level of patient/ community interaction that they would have in a volunteer position in the United States”, advisors hear all-too-common accounts of students undertaking activities that would not be allowed in domestic healthcare settings. In the name of “helping” and “learning”, students are undertaking activities that put patients, the student, as well as sending and receiving organizations, in jeopardy.