Globalisation has implications for the next generation of doctors, and thus for medical education. Increasingly, global health is being taught in medical schools, although its incorporation into an already full curriculum presents challenges. Global health was introduced into the MBChB curriculum at the University of Aberdeen through a student-selected component (SSC) as part of an existing medical humanities block. The Global Health and Humanities (GHH) module was first delivered in the autumn of 2013 and will shortly enter its third year.
This student-led study used quantitative and qualitative methods to assess the module's appropriateness and effectiveness for strengthening learning on global health, consisting of online surveys for course participants and semi-structured interviews with faculty members.
Integrating global health into the undergraduate medical curriculum by way of an SSC was regarded by teaching staff as an effective and realistic approach. A recognised strength of delivering global health as part of the medical humanities block was the opportunity to expose students to the social determinants of health through interdisciplinary teaching. Participating students all agreed that the learning approach strengthened both their knowledge of global health and a range of generic skills.
SSCs are, by definition, self-selecting, and will have a tendency to attract students already with an interest in a topic - here global health. A wide range of learning opportunities is needed to integrate global health throughout medical curricula, and to reach all students.