Promoting Personal and Professional Growth - The Role of Reflection and Scholarship in Global Health


A. Kulkarni
A. Lundgren
C. Miranda
C. Bronsther
C. Capello
TJ. Jirasevijinda


International Medical Education




Weill Cornell Medical College. New York, NY. USA


Global Health (GH) Program at Weill Cornell Medical College (WCMC)

  • A strength of the Medical College that draws applicants with interests and/or experiences in GH
  • Prior student interests include community service, research, and public health field work
  • 50% of WCMC students go overseas during 4 yrs of medical education
    •  4th year electives
    • Summer experience between 1st & 2nd years

Global Health Summer Fellows (GHSFs)

  • Go through a strict application process
  • Trips partly sponsored by privately endowed or foundational funding
  • Post-trip report required to receive moneys
  • No guidelines on these post-trip write-ups prior to 2011

Service Learning

  • Concept has been shown to promote personal & professional development by incorporating reflection
  • Is gaining increasing attention in medical education
  • Past literature focuses on changes/outcomes in those receiving service
  • Current trend is shifting to evaluating the learn experience

Glassick’s Criteria for scholarship (Glassicks 2000)

  • Based on work at the Carnegie Foundation
  • A rigorous framwork to evaluate scientific & educational edeavors
  • Useful for guiding academic projects, from planning to implementation to evaluation
  • 6 criteria: clear goals, adequate preparation, appropriate methods, significant results, effective presentation, reflective critique 

Summary of Work



  1. Standardize post-trip write-up guidelines by incorporating service learning & Glassick’s scholarship frameworks;
  2. Identify emerging themes elicited by the new guidelines that capture learner personal & professional growth



  • Two medical students accepted to the Global Health Summer Fellowship volunteer to work with 2 GH Fellows (hired by the Office of Global Health Education)
  • Under faculty mentorship, the team reviewed pertinent literature & drafted guidelines for post-trip write-ups
  • The draft was reviewed & approved by the Global Health Committee
  • The guidelines were introduced to GHSFs in a one-hour in-class session during the 2-week GH enrichment elective course 2 months prior to their trips
  • During the session faculty reviewed the 2 frameworks, and asked students to apply them to evaluate write-ups from previous years

Sample questions in addition to description of the proposed activities or research projects

·      How did your experience meet or not meet your learning objectives?

·      What obstacles & opportunities did you encounter during your experience. How did you take advantage of or overcome them?

·      Describe how your experience has impacted your personal & professional development, including future career goals.

·      Describe the best aspects about the experience

·      List three remaining questions you still have that you plan to pursue further

·      What advice would you give future students interested in similar projects/experiences?

Data Collection & Analysys

  • The team collected post-trip summaries after the summer of 2011
  • The data were de-identified by removing names
  • The team reviewed the write-ups for emerging themes using Grounded Theory

-   The team first reviewed the data individually, coded them with emerging themes

-   The team then met to compare & finalize themes based on concensus

  • None of the team members was involved in the distribution of funding to GHSFs


Summary of Results

Participant Characteristics

  • 24 students participated in the program, in 12 countries
  • All students submitted their write-ups
  • Experiences included clinical observership, basic-science & translation research

Post-Trip write-ups after guideline introduction

  • Increase in length, number of topics discussed & depth of discussion/reflection
  • Emerging themes include

-   The wide range of medical conditions seen

-   Impact of psychosocial factors on illness

-   Clinical & research skills acquired

-   Challenges encountered in the field: Largely systems-issues

-   Impact on future careers

-   Advice for future students

  • Areas requiring further investigations

-   Pain control

-   Cross-cultural communication

-   Patient-centered care

-   Interprofessional collaboration




The introduction of explicit guidelines using service learning & Glassick’s scholarship frameworks improved the quantity & quality of post-trip summaries. Emerging themes identified areas for future research & curricular enhancement for the preparatory elective course

Take-home Messages

1.     Burrows, MS et al. Required service learning in medical students: Program description and student responses. Teaching and Learning in Medicine. 1999;11(4):223-31

2.     Glassick CE, Huber MT, Maeroff GI. Scholarship assessed : Evaluation of the professoriate. 1st ed. San Francisco, Ca.: Jossey-Bass; 1996


Summary of Work

Summary of Results
Take-home Messages
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