Center for Global Health

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Applied Experiences

There are numerous global health opportunities at Weill Cornell Medical College. Students in the first year are encouraged to design their own international elective for up to 8 weeks but no less than 6 weeks in a developing nation. Fourth year students have a wider choice of international electives ranging from 4 weeks to up to 12 weeks, depending on their schedule.

Four week electives include a clinical elective at the Christian Medical College in Vellore India; the Max Kade Program in Vienna Austria; the USEU MEE program in London, England, Copenhagen Denmark, and Munich, Germany; and the American Hospital in Paris.

 All other electives must be for a minimum of 6 weeks (preferably 8 weeks) and include, but are not limited to, Weill Bugando Medical Centre located in Mwanza, Tanzania,  the University of Sydney in Australia; the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical College in Tanzania; and San Marcos Medical College in Lima, Peru. For a complete listing of independent electives, please see the OGHE website, and Global Health Initiatives.

The contents of this page are to guide students in their development and completion of a Global Health International Elective

  • Defining a Global Health- International Elective
  • Developing a Global Health- International Elective
  • Application Process
    • Overview
    • Forms
    • Deadlines/ Timeline
    • General Guidelines
    • Contact
  • Funding
    • Listing of Weill Cornell Endowed Fellowships
    • External Links
  • Preparing to Complete a Global Health- International Elective
    • Passports and Visas
    • Immunizations and Health Precautions
    • Booking Airline Tickets
    • Safety Precautions (Country Specific Alerts and Warnings)
    • International Medical Insurance
    • Packing Guide and Universal Precautions While Abroad
    • Preparation Guides
Defining an Applied Experience
Global health is a multidisciplinary study of factors contributing to health and disease worldwide. Global Health International Electives can provide broader perspectives on health, illness, and health care delivery. Through the experience, students gain an appreciation for the delivery of care in a different setting and health system, and obtain a first-hand understanding of the determinants of health and global burden of disease.
Global Health International Electives are clinical, community health, or research activities in a developed or developing nation.


These electives offer exposure to a range of clinical conditions and the provision of care in the context of a different, unfamiliar society or culture. In some cases, the lack of high-tech diagnostic and treatment options forces students to rely on their medical knowledge and clinical skills.

Community Health:

Electives with a community health focus are largely outgrowths of ongoing projects in a specific locale. These electives provide the opportunity to work with community members to meet a specific need. The project's scope can vary depending on the student's background (e.g., public health, epidemiology, health services) and the nature of the project can vary depending on the community's needs (e.g., identifying existing resources, defining unmet needs, studying outcomes after an intervention).


These projects can either be initiated by the student or be a part of an ongoing research study in the host country. The project's scope is usually clinical or community health related.
Global Health- International Electives are not to be used to learn a foreign language. Funding will not be provided for enrollment in a foreign language school, for example.
Developing an Applied Experience
A student should first identify a location for the elective and then develop a general idea of the type of elective he/she would want to complete (e.g., focus on pediatrics, focus on infectious disease). This brainstorming process can begin by examining the Weill Cornell global health Faculty Index and the ongoing Global Health Initiatives at Weill Cornell. Students may also consult Open Action, a database of electives completed by students in the past.
The Office of Global Health (OGHE) has maintained an extensive file of programs and projects that past students have completed. This information, as well as comments from students who have traveled abroad, can be found on the OGHE website and at the OGHE's office located at 425 East 61st Street, Suite 321. Students should consult these references and then arrange to speak to the Director of the OGHE.
Some students may have their own contacts and are able to design their own project; however, a discussion should be held with the Director of the OGHE prior to finalizing any elective plans.
Guidebooks such as A Practical Guide to Global Health Service, by Dr. Edward J. O'Neil, may also be helpful in identifying a potential project.
In addition to identifying a project, students must also identify a Weill Cornell faculty mentor, as well as a mentor in the host country where the elective will be completed. Both mentors play a crucial role in helping the student clarify the scope of the project. In some cases, the WCMC faculty mentor can help facilitate placing the student in an existing program or identifying a host mentor for the student. Weill Cornell mentor can be identified by accessing the Weill Cornell global health Faculty Index.
The Director of the OGHE often serves as the Weill-Cornell faculty advisor for those students who have not identified a WCMC faculty mentor.
Electives completed after the first-year of medical school usually have community health or research foci, as students have not yet developed clinical skills. Fourth year electives almost always have a clinical focus. In addition, language requirements must be considered. For example, proficiency in Spanish is required for nearly all programs/ initiatives in Latin America and proficiency in French is required for the American Hospital in Paris elective.
Application Process


Global Health- International electives are typically completed in the summer after the first-year of medical school and/or during the spring term of the fourth-year of medical school. In addition, some students elect to take a leave of absence between the third and fourth years of medical school to pursue more in-depth projects.
The application process is the same for all students. Students should take note of application deadlines/timelines specific to their year, especially students planning to take a year off and want to apply for fellowship funding (i.e., Fogarty, Fulbright).  
  1. Define and develop an idea for an elective.
  2. Meet with the Director of the Office of Global Health Education (OGHE) to discuss the proposed elective.
  3. Identify a Weill Cornell faculty mentor.
  4. Identify a mentor in the setting where the elective will be completed.
  5. Write a formal proposal with both mentors that explains the scope and purpose of the elective.
  6. Submit proposals to the OGHE and to external sources of funding. (Be sure to include the appropriate cover form when submitting the application to the OGHE.*)
  7. Approval by Weill Cornell's International Committee is necessary for the student to receive funding by the OGHE. 
  8. Prepare to complete the elective:
    • Apply for a passport and visa, as required by host country
    • Acquire necessary medications
    • Acquire necessary vaccinations
    • Stay updated on the news and health concerns of your host country
  9. Complete the "Agreement and Release" and "Consent" forms.* These forms, along with a copy of the student's valid passport and visa, should be submitted to the OGHE prior to departing.
  10. Upon return, submit the "Student Evaluation" and "Supervisor Evaluation" forms to the OGHE.*
  11. Write a report on the elective experience. This report is to be submitted to the OGHE within a month of returning from the elective.  Reimbursement for travel will not be made without prior receipt of the written report. 
  12. Participate in the OGHE's bi-annual International Day.
* Note: All forms can be found in the intranet portal of the OGHE's website.

Application Forms

All proposals must be submitted to OGHE using the generic application cover sheet.  In addition, some programs have specific application forms in which case these forms need to be completed as well.  The completed application is to be submitted to the OGHE.  Forms can be found in the itnranet portal of the OGHE website.

Deadlines/ Timeline

Weill Cornell's International Committee meets monthly during the academic year to discuss and approve proposals.
  • First-Year Students: First-year students complete Global Health-International Electives during the summer following their first-year of medical school.  Applications for consideration must be submitted prior to a specfied deadline, usually mid-March.  Applications received after the deadline will not be considered. 
  • Leave of Absence Students: A leave of absence may be taken between the third and fourth years of medical school to complete a Global Health- International elective. Planning for such an elective should begin the summer following the second-year of medical school.

    Students interested in completing a year-long elective often apply for outside funding through the Fulbright Fellowship Program, the Doris Duke Fellowship, the O.C. Hubert Student Fellowship in International Health, and/or the Fogarty Fellows Program.

    Interested students should meet with the Director of Global Health Education and the Office of Academic Affairs (1300 York Avenue, Room C-118; 212.746.1050) as early as possible to discuss the logistics of taking a year off to go abraod. 
  • Fourth-Year Students: Global Health-International Electives are frequently taken in the spring of the fourth-year after the required clerkships have been satisfied.
Planning for this elective should begin during the third-year of medical school.  Unless so specified, an international elective must be taken for a minimum of 6 weeks. 

General Guidelines

When designing projects, students must:
  • International electives must be 6 - 8 weeksin duration.  There are, however, a few specific electives that are 4 weeks in duration (e.g., American Hospital in Paris, Christian Medical College, the Max Kade Program, and the USEU MEE).
  • Identify a mentor both from Weill Cornell and the host country and work closely with both mentors to develop the project proposal.
  • Be mindful of language requirements for the host country. 
  • Ensure the project is reasonable in scope for the time allotted.  For example, electives with a heavy clinical focus are reserved for third and fourth-year medical students.


Questions relating to the application process should be addressed to the Office of Global Health Education.
The Office of Global Health Education
402 East 67th Street
New York, NY 10065

Oliver Fein, MD
Associate Dean of Affiliations and
the Office of Global Health EducationMadelon Finkel, PhD
Director of the Office of Global Health Education
646.962.8038Dianne Young, MPH
Global Health Electives Coordinator
212.746.4837Yasmine Reeder
Global Health Electives Assistant


Weill-Cornell has numerous endowed fellowships specifically set up to help defray the costs of international travel.  No additional application is necessary to be considered for this funding. Allocation of the funds is determined by OGHE.
Some of the fellowships only cover airfare, while others provide funds for airfare, lodging and food. Also, for those who qualify, the Weill Cornell's Work-Study program provides funding for first-year students to travel abroad. Unfortunately, at this time, the OGHE cannot pay for visas or immunizations or electives with no international focus.
There are many other scholarships that students can apply for to help defray the costs of international travel. The OGHE maintains a listing of these scholarships within the intranet portal of the OGHE's website. In addition, there are many grants and scholarships available through religious organizations and foundations.

Listing of Weill Cornell Endowed Fellowships

Students who submit proposals to the OGHE are automatically considered for the following fellowships. No additional application is required.
  • American Hospital in Paris Fellowship
  • Auxiliary International Fellowship
  • Dr. B.H. Kean Class of 1964 Fellowship
  • Ferienakademie Fellowship
  • Ida S. Scudder, M.D. 1899 Fellowship
  • Joan M. May Fellowship
  • Lynford Family International Fellowship
  • Marian and Jack Blankenship Fellowship
  • Max Kade Foundations Fellowship
  • Dr. Milton B. Rosenbluth Fellowship
  • United States European Medical Education Exchange Fellowship

External Links

Preparing to Complete a Global Health- International Elective
The U.S. State Department, the Center for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization websites have a multitude of helpful information for students preparing to travel internationally. Although some of the specific links are highlighted below, students are encouraged to become familiar with as much of the contents of these sites as possible:
U.S. State Department
Tel: (202) 647-5225
Centers for Disease Control
Tel: (404) 639-3311
World Health Organization

Passports and Visas

Students must comply with Passport and Visa requirements. Multiple copies of the passport and visa should be made prior to departure. At least two sets should remain with the student while completing the elective and one set should be given to the OGHE.
  • Passport: U.S. Passports can take up to 6 weeks to process.
  • Visa: Visa application procedures and processing times vary from country-to-country. Students should become familiar with their host country's visa requirements and application process as well as entry/exit fee policies.

Immunizations and Health Recommendations

Students should ensure they have received the necessary immunizations and preventative medicines prior to departure. The CDC, the WHO, and/or the Weill Cornell International Medicine Consultation Service (212-746-1601) can provide information on country specific health recommendations. In addition, students could consult host country mentors for guidance and advice on health related issues that are specific to the area being visited.
  • Immunizations: Plan ahead. Vaccinations vary in the length of time needed to reach maximum efficiency. Further, not all vaccinations can be given at the same time. Allow at least 4 to 6 weeks before departure to plan your course of vaccinations. In addition to country specific vaccinations, be sure that routine vaccinations are up-to-date.
  • Health Recommendations: Students should obtain knowledge in precautionary techniques relating to insect repellent and food/ water consumption before departure. In addition, students should also become familiar and remain updated on the health status of the host country.

Booking Airline Tickets

Pricing of airline tickets vary seasonally and monthly. It is recommended that students shop carefully when purchasing tickets. Here are a few sites to begin the search process:

Safety Precautions

The U.S. State Department provides updated safety precautions for specific countries. Students should remain updated on Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts while also becoming familiar with the Emergency Assistance available to U.S. citizens.

International Medical Insurance

All Weill Cornell medical students receive SOS Medical Insurance.  OGHE provides the insurance cards at the orientation meeting.

Preparation Guides


Weill Cornell Medicine Center for Global Health 402 East 67th Street, 2nd Floor New York, NY 10065 Phone: (646) 962-8140 Fax: (646) 962-0285