International Electives at the University of Minnesota Global Pediatric Residency Program: Opportunities for Education in All Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education Competencies

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Globally competent pediatricians are in demand because of the increasing numbers of children from immigrant families living in the United States and the shortages of health care workers in low-income countries where the majority of the worlds' children live. This study sought to better understand the educational outcomes of international electives taken by pediatric residents training in global health.


Thirty-two pediatric residents who participated in an international elective as part of a global health curriculum completed reflective essays which were analyzed for themes from 2006 to 2010. During the first-order analysis, the emergent themes mapped to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) competencies. In response, a second-order analysis re-examined the essays with an additional researcher to support categorization consistent with the ACGME competencies.


More than 90% of essays described experiences related to medical knowledge, patient care and systems-based practice. More than 50% included reflections on practice-based learning and improvement, professionalism, and interpersonal and communication skills. Residents also described the impact on their personal and professional development.


International electives can provide educational opportunities for residents to develop competency in each of the 6 ACGME domains and to reevaluate their life purpose and career goals. In addition to opportunities to increase their medical knowledge, patient care and communication skills, residents find international electives rich learning environments for systems-based practice, practice-based learning/improvement, and professionalism, domains that can be challenging to teach. These findings support the importance of international electives in global health in meeting core requirements in residency training.