Purpose Rising rates of travel and migration, increasing challenges brought by aging populations and chronic diseases, growing urbanization, and the globalization of trade are making global health relevant to more and more medical careers. Infectious disease epidemics, international crises, and the number of people displaced due to conflict are all reminders to the general public as well as those involved in the delivery of health care of the interconnectivity and vulnerability of the world's population. Students, residents, and physicians are eager to learn about and participate in global health but often have little understanding of where to begin. As such, BC Children's Hospital (BCCH), in collaboration with medical students from the University of British Columbia (UBC), identified a need for the development of training experiences to help prepare health care students and professionals for effective and meaningful global health work. To provide the most beneficial training, there is a need to first understand the current level of global health background of students, residents, and faculty and to conduct a learning needs assessment to evaluate what kind of training would be most beneficial to them.
Methods A working evening dedicated to global health education was held on March 31, 2006, which took the form of a panel of four speakers, followed by breakout focus groups. Focus groups were asked critical questions about the process by which a global health education curriculum would be offered. In addition to an evening focus group, a comprehensive on-line questionnaire was sent to all medical students and faculty in family practice, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, and surgery to explore the subjects' experiences in global health and categorical questions regarding subjects' perceived needs for training and access to global health resources. Descriptive statistics for the study population will be analyzed. Main themes of the qualitative questionnaire data will be extracted and summarized. Categorical data will be tabulated and summarized to reflect subject responses to the needs assessment for global health education and resources.
Conclusions A student-led steering committee specific for global health education is now in place. Grand funding has been awarded by the Vancouver Foundation and the Department of Pediatric Surgery at BCCH. A monthly hands-on global health education workshop has now evolved to address the key learning needs of students and faculty.
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