A longitudinal surgical systems strengthening research program for medical students: the exploration of a model for global health education

Gregory L. Peck, Joseph S. Hanna, Erin M. Scott, Dhaval Mehta, Zina Model, Deesha Sarma, Elizabeth E. Ginalis, Zachary Berlant, Fernando Ferrera, Javier Escobar, Carlos A. Ordoñez, Carlos Morales, Vicente H. Gracias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: In response to the staggering global burden of conditions requiring emergency and essential surgery, the development of international surgical system strengthening (SSS) is fundamental to achieving universal, timely, quality, and affordable surgical care. Opportunity exists in identifying optimal collaborative processes that both promote global surgery research and SSS, and include medical students. This study explores an education model to engage students in academic global surgery and SSS via institutional support for longitudinal research. Objectives: We set out to design a program to align global health education and longitudinal health systems research by creating an education model to engage medical students in academic global surgery and SSS. Program design and implementation: In 2015, medical schools in the United States and Colombia initiated a collaborative partnership for academic global surgery research and SSS. This included development of two longitudinal academic tracks in global health medical education and academic global surgery, which we differentiated by level of institutional resourcing. Herein is a retrospective evaluation of the first two years of this program by using commonly recognized academic output metrics. Main achievements: In the first two years of the program, there were 76 total applicants to the two longitudinal tracks. Six of the 16 (37.5%) accepted students selected global surgery faculty as mentors (Acute Care Surgery faculty participating in SSS with Colombia). These global surgery students subsequently spent 24 total working weeks abroad over the two-year period participating in culminating research experiences in SSS. As a quantitative measure of the program’s success, the students collectively produced a total of twenty scholarly pieces in the form of accepted posters, abstracts, podium presentations, and manuscripts in partnership with Colombian research mentors. Policy implications: The establishment of scholarly global health education and research tracks has afforded our medical students an active role in international SSS through participation in academic global surgery research. We propose that these complementary programs can serve as a model for disseminated education and training of the future global systems-aware surgeon workforce with bidirectional growth in south and north regions with traditionally under-resourced SSS training programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number34
JournalGlobal Health Research and Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Epidemiology
  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine(all)


  • Global health
  • Global surgery
  • Health systems
  • Medical student education
  • Surgical education
  • Systems strengthening


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