Another recipe for improving global neurology for US trainees—this time with a dash of ACGME-flavored core competencies

An anthropologist-friend some years ago described the average international student elective as “an experience of inflicting the unprepared upon the unsuspecting.” Thankfully, as US global health programs have expanded in number with many becoming formally incorporated into existing training programs, a growing body of knowledge and academic thought about what should be included in a global neurology curriculum is starting to emerge.1-4

With that in mind, check out Deb et al.’s article in Neurology which presents the interesting and somewhat novel approach being taken at the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine.In addition to linking the program to ACGME core competencies, UMSM incorporates relevant lectures and “virtual” conferences with their foreign partners into the standard existing curriculum and in this way brings into the experience residents who might not otherwise have an opportunity (or interest) in global health to learn about neurologic conditions and care delivery in settings very different from their own. There is obviously more than one way to craft a global neurology training curriculum, but efforts such as these will go a long way to improving the trainees’ experiences—and hopefully the hosts’ as well!

  1. Berkowitz AL, Milligan TA, Cho TA. Development of a track in global and humanitarian health for neurology residents. Neurology 2015;85:1894-1895.
  2. Lyons JL, Coleman ME, Engstrom JW, Mateen FJ. International electives in neurology training: a survey of US and Canadian program directors. Neurology 2014;82:119-125.
  3. Kaddumukasa M, Katabira E, Salata RA, et al. Global medical education partnerships to expand specialty expertise: a case report on building neurology clinical and research capacity. Hum Resour Health 2014;12:75.
  4. Siddiqi OK, Koralnik IJ, Atadzhanov M, Birbeck GL. Emerging subspecialties in neurology: global health. Neurology 2013;80:e78-80.
  5. Anindita Deb, Melissa Fischer, and Anna DePold Hohler. A framework for global health curricula for Neurology trainees. Neurology 2018;91:528-532
Gretchen L. Birbeck, MD, MPH

Gretchen L. Birbeck, MD, MPH

Gretchen Birbeck is a neurologist who divides her time between the US and Africa. Her US academic home is the University of Rochester where she is the Rykenboer Professor of Neurology and Research Director for the Strong Epilepsy Center with adjunct appointments in the Center for Human Experimental Therapeutics and the Department of Public Health. Her additional skills in epidemiology, health services research, and tropical medicine are brought to bear during the 6-months annually she spends in Africa where she serves as Director for the Chikankata Epilepsy Care Team in rural Mazabuka, Zambia, an Honorary Lecturer at the University of Zambia and a consultant for the Paediatric Research Ward at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. Gretchen’s research programs are aimed at identifying opportunities to prevent or ameliorate the medical and social morbidities of common neurologic conditions in low-income, tropical settings with the ultimate goal of developing successful interventions feasible for scale up and broad implementation. She has been recognized as an Ambassador for Epilepsy by the International League against Epilepsy, a Global Health Research Ambassador by the US Paul Rogers Society, a National Outreach Scholar by the WK Kellogg Foundation and a Leader in Medicine by the American Medical Students Association.

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