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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Institute for Global Health
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Policies

Admission to a global health rotation or program is contingent upon a student's continued adherence to the policies and requirements of any other Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine programs. It is the participant’s responsibility to be aware of these policies. Following is information specific to global health programs.

For university-wide policies, please see the following links:

Participants of global health rotations and programs are expected to adhere to and are protected by the policies of the university. Learn more via the links below.

 Academic Policies
Admission is contingent upon a medical student's continued academic success and ability to meet student standards.

Admission to a Feinberg School of Medicine global health rotation/program is contingent upon a medical student's continued academic success. Should a medical student's admission be revoked as a result of poor academic performance or based on a recommendation from the Student Promotions Committee (SPC), Northwestern University and the Institute for Global Health will not be responsible for refunding any expenses incurred in preparation for the intended time abroad.

Student Standards

Membership in an academic community requires mutual respect, consideration and concern for the well-being of others, as well as a significant degree of personal integrity and maturity. Students who have engaged in misconduct or other unethical behavior, as determined by SPC, may be precluded from participation in a Feinberg global health rotation/program. SPC actions may include reprimand, suspension or dismissal of a student whose actions are found to be inconsistent with the qualities of a good physician. These vital qualities include:

  • Sound judgment
  • Personal insight or perception
  • Motivation
  • Personal integrity and accountability
  • Responsibility to patients
  • Ability to recognize personal limitations
  • Ability to function under pressure

Information concerning medical student conduct is made available to the Institute for Global Health and will be considered when reviewing a student's application. It may be considered a determining factor for a medical student's continued eligibility in a Feinberg global health rotation/program.

Students who have been put on disciplinary probation or suspension or who have been reprimanded by SPC are ineligible to participate in a Feinberg global health rotation/program during the period of their probation, suspension or reprimand. Students who have been suspended, withdrawn or dismissed from the university are ineligible to participate in a Feinberg global health rotation/program. Should a student's admission to a Feinberg global health rotation/program be revoked as a result of disciplinary action or conduct violation, Northwestern University will not be responsible for refunding any expenses incurred in preparation for the intended time abroad.

 Admissions Eligibility
Applicants are evaluated on the basis of academic record, committee recommendations and appropriate academic and clinical preparation.

Applicants for Feinberg's global health rotations/programs are evaluated on academic record (i.e., good standing status with the registrar), recommendations from the Student Promotions Committee and appropriate academic and clinical preparation (prior experience and familiarity with global health issues and ability to contribute within a clinical environment). The Institute for Global Health reserves the right to approve, waitlist and/or deny any medical student application. Feinberg global health rotations/programs are not open to Northwestern undergraduate students or to other medical and/or graduate students at other universities.

 Funding for Long-Term Global Health Projects
See the policies and processes related to securing funding for long-term global health projects.

Funding for long-term global health projects is available to support Feinberg student engagement in global health and to encourage student interest in and understanding of cross-cultural competencies, social determinants of health and clinical practice in resource-limited settings, among other topics. Learn about the policies associated with long-term funding.

 Immediate Suspension
Participating students and faculty will abide by the policies, rules and regulations in effect at their host institution.

Participating students and faculty will abide by the policies, rules and regulations in effect at the host institution as stated in the student handbook of the respective institutions. Students whose academic work or behavior is deemed not suitable may be terminated from participation by the program director of the host institution, who has sole authority to suspend and/or terminate the rotation and/or program of the visiting student. If, in the opinion of the program director at Feinberg's affiliated institution, a student's behavior presents an imminent threat to the student's physical or emotional health, safety or well-being or the health, safety or well-being of others, the maintenance of public order or the effective continuation of the educational process, the program director may immediately suspend the student from the program prior to any formal disciplinary proceeding. The director shall promptly advise the Institute for Global Health of the circumstances of the suspension. The student will be responsible for returning and for making alternative housing arrangements on their own and at their own cost.

 International Health Insurance
Students should review the Student Health Insurance policy and understand the extent of their coverage before traveling abroad.

To ensure a safe and fun experience when traveling abroad, it is important to understand the extent of your insurance coverage. Students should review the Student Health Insurance policy. Students who are not enrolled in Northwestern-sponsored insurance should speak with their insurance provider to learn about coverage while abroad.

GeoBlue Insurance

Northwestern University offers its students, faculty and staff supplemental GeoBlue travel insurance at an additional cost. Those participating in a Institute for Global Health–supported experience are required to be covered by GeoBlue insurance or another comparable travel insurance. GeoBlue covers primary care when traveling abroad for a nominal weekly fee. GeoBlue is not meant to be a substitute for domestic health insurance but covers an individual for certain services when outside of the U.S. Learn more about GeoBlue insurance.

Drum Cussac

Drum Cussac is a supplementary travel service, which Northwestern purchases on behalf of all university faculty, students and staff. Drum Cussac provides worldwide assistance and evacuation services to all Northwestern students and employees who travel outside the United States to study or conduct university business. Read the directions, then register for Drum Cussac services, For questions, contact platformsupport@drum-cussac.com.

 International Laws
All program participants are subject to the local laws of the host country, which may specify fines or imprisonment for conviction of offenses.

Faculty, staff and students should be aware that in addition to the university sanctions, all program participants are subject to the local laws of the host country, which may specify fines or imprisonment for conviction of offenses. When appropriate or necessary, Northwestern will cooperate fully with international law enforcement agencies. Inform yourself on the laws of host country, particularly in regard to controlled substances.

 Post‐Exposure Prophylaxis Guidelines
Read the steps we recommend you take in case of occupational exposure to infected or potentially infected bodily fluid while at a global health field site.

The purpose of the Guidelines for Blood‐borne Pathogen Exposure and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis are to delineate recommended actions that should be taken in case of an occupational exposure of any member of the Feinberg School of Medicine to infected or potentially infected bodily fluid while at a global health field site (i.e. off-campus, non-U.S. site). The policy extends to Feinberg School of Medicine students.

The guidelines outlines Feinberg's recommendations. It does not replace individual choice. Each exposed person has the right to weigh the risks and benefits and make their own choice about when to take post‐exposure prophylaxis.

 Refund Policy
If you cannot complete your scheduled rotation, follow these steps.

The Institute for Global Health understands that changing situations may occasionally cause students to be unable to participate in global health education experiences. If you cannot complete your scheduled rotation, please inform the Institute for Global Health staff and the affiliated program contact as soon as you know that you will be unable to travel. 

Students that can no longer participate in the global health experience because of a schedule change will be responsible for any program fees owed, if applicable, or the cost of travel if already purchased. Each affiliated program has its own refund policy, so please inform your contact at the site as soon as possible. If a Global Health Initiative Award or Feinberg Travel Grant has already been dispersed to the student, they will be expected to return the funds to the Institute for Global Health.

In the case of illness or family emergency, students may be eligible for an exception to the rule above about program fees and travel costs, but must still return any Global Health Initiative Award or Feinberg Travel Grant. Please contact the Institute for Global Health staff as soon as possible to discuss your situation so we can best support you.

In the case of trips cancelled due to a safety concern (i.e., a new State Department travel warning or a natural disaster), students will not be responsible for travel or other program fees. 

 Sponsored Travel for Students
This policy applies to the International Health Fellowship, the Feinberg Travel Grant and the Global Health Initiative.

The Institute for Global Health allocates travel funds to select Feinberg School of Medicine students who wish to pursue a global health rotation/program at international sites. The sponsored travel policy specifically applies to the International Health Fellowship (IHF), the Feinberg Travel Grant (FTG) and the Global Health Initiative (GHI).

Award amounts for the IHF and FTG are determined on a case-by-case basis by the global health education steering committee in the Institute for Global Health. The GHI funds come from a private donor of the university who sets their own giving levels. Travel awards are not guaranteed to every Feinberg student who applies.

I. Eligibility Requirements

  • Applicants must be registered as full-time matriculated medical students at Feinberg to be eligible.
  • The medical student must be in good standing at the time of proposed travel.
  • Feinberg Travel Grant applies to clinical rotations and public health/research projects at any one of Feinberg's affiliated international universities or clinics.
  • IHF and GHI awards apply to clinical rotations and public health/research projects at affiliated partners and unaffiliated international sites that have been reviewed and approved by the institute.
  • If awarded funding, a student must submit the appropriate financial paperwork and complete the institute's required application, orientation and evaluation steps.
  • Students must submit the institute's online evaluation, an evaluation from their preceptor if receiving elective credit, and/or a scholarly paper for research projects to the Institute for Global Health upon completion of the project.
  • Trainees are eligible for a maximum of two GHI awards, one IHF award and one FTG award during their training programs.

II. Funding Restrictions

Students may not receive funding from more than one source from Northwestern University for the same rotation/project. Sponsored Northwestern travel sources for students include, but are not limited to, the International Health Fellowship, Feinberg Travel Grant, Global Health Initiative, the Program in Public Health, the Medical Student Summer Research Program and the Office of International Relations.

Travel funds may not be deferred and must be used for the approved rotation/project within the same academic year that the award is issued.

III. Taxable Income

Scholarship payments issued by Northwestern University may be considered taxable income by the IRS depending on a student’s individual financial situation. No taxes will be taken out of the scholarship payment at the time of payment if processed by Northwestern’s Payroll Department, but trainees should be aware that they will need to report this during the following year’s tax season on Worksheet 1-1. This is solely the responsibility of the award recipient. If you would instead like taxes withheld from your award, please fill out the W4 form with Payroll on the 8th floor of Abbott hall.

IV. How Do I Receive My Travel Funds?

For Students: All scholarship awards must be processed via Payroll. Once an award letter is received, you will be provided with instructions and forms to complete the Payroll process. Paperwork submitted before the 7th of the month will generally be processed by the end of the same month, while paperwork submitted after the 7th will be processed at the end of the subsequent month. Please allow four to six weeks for processing. Please note that all such timelines are an approximation and that students may have to wait longer periods of time depending on individual financial circumstances. 

For Residents: In order to receive your GHI funding, you must contact your residency program coordinator to discuss the required steps for the reimbursement process and fill out the appropriate paperwork for the GME office.

Global Health Initiative awards are distributed as a reimbursement for residents. Allowable expense categories for reimbursement include:

  • Market rate international ticket (coach class)
  • Program fees (i.e., ay required fees paid to host institution)
  • Immunization and travel medicine
  • Visa application fees
  • Housing expenses at destination
  • Per diem (at discretion of the department)

GHI awards will NOT cover local fares (i.e. taxis, public transportation) or other transportation expenses in the U.S. or abroad nor will they reimburse for medical supplies, individual meal expenses or unplanned medical expenses. Each award will be made up to a maximum dollar amount to be reimbursed after travel is complete. If additional receipts are submitted with totals that exceed the maximum award amount, the additional expenses will not be reimbursed. Awards are contingent upon prior approval of the rotation by your respective program director.

V.  When Travel Funds Must Be Returned

Feinberg students may be required to return travel funds that are awarded to support a global health experience if any one of the following conditions occurs:

  • A trainee is dismissed from a visiting rotation or medical education program at an international site by the host institution’s program director for unprofessional or unethical behavior.
  • A trainee leaves a visiting rotation or medical education program early and without prior permission from both the host institution and Feinberg.
  • Unforeseen emergencies, natural disasters or another force majeure causes the cancellation of a visiting rotation or medical education program before the rotation/program begins. In such cases, it is the student’s responsibility to contact airlines, travel agents and places of residence where they intend to stay to cancel reservations and request refunds as soon as reasonably possible.  Cancellations that occur due to emergencies, natural disasters or force majeure during a rotation/program at an international site will be handled on a case-by-case basis and under such circumstances students should contact the Institute for Global Health as soon as possible.
  • A student completes the rotation/medical education program and Feinberg later learns that the student acted in an unprofessional or unethical manner and is consequently disciplined by the Student Promotions Committee.

If any of these situations occur, the funds must be returned by the student to the Institute for Global Health within 30 days of the request and before graduation, whichever date comes first.

 Student Travel & Funding Policy
This policy applies to all Feinberg students participating in all clinical away-rotations and medical education programs at international sites.

The Feinberg School of Medicine’s Institute for Global Health established the following policy for Feinberg students participating in all clinical away-rotations and medical education programs at international sites. It became effective in January 2011 and was revised in January 2018.

Common Preparation Requirements for Global Health Rotations/Programs

General Considerations

The Institute for Global Health (IGH) at the Feinberg School of Medicine (FSM) in conjunction with Dean’s Administration retains the right to review, approve and/or deny clinical electives, research and public health projects, and/or medical education programs at both affiliated and independent institutions at international sites for all medical trainees including medical, physical therapy, physician assistant and all other FSM students as well as FSM student organizations. A committee of FSM faculty and administrators review, approve, suspend, and/or deny school-sponsored global health education proposals. This committee annually reviews each affiliated site for the quality of experience, supervision, safety, risk and liability.

 Approved international rotations for research or clinical education must be a minimum of four consecutive weeks in duration. Special exceptions to this minimum duration will be considered for unique professional development opportunities, such as select academic conferences and research projects for FSM students, to be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Institute for Global Health and Dean’s Administration.

This policy is in place to ensure standard criteria are met regarding safety, risk and liability, sustainability and organizational mission, and proper supervision by a licensed medical professional.

Supervision

In order to be eligible for elective credit or FSM funding for an international clinical rotation, public health and/or research project at an independent institution, FSM students must be supervised by an appropriately licensed medical professional to be in compliance with the Supervision Policies of the Augusta Webster Office of Medical Education for medical students and the McGaw Medical Center for residents and fellows.

Education Programs for Academic Credit vs. Vacation

In order to receive academic credit and/or funding for a clinical rotation at an affiliated or independent site, approvals must be received in advance from both the clinical clerkship director/faculty supervisor and the Institute for Global Health and all steps below must be complete. To receive academic credit and/or funding for a research rotation at an affiliated or independent site, approvals must be received in advance from both the FSM faculty supervisor and the Institute for Global Health and all steps below must be complete.

Short-term medical missions, non-approved research or volunteer work, and other non-credit programs where students do not receive credit and which are not supported by FSM funding are considered vacation /non-school sanctioned travel.

In order to obtain academic credit for an international clinical rotation or research elective, each of the application and preparation steps detailed in this policy must be completed in advance of the rotation. Rotations at international settings not previously approved by the Institute for Global Health and Dean’s Administration (in accordance with the steps below) are considered vacation/non-school sanctioned travel.

Rotations that may be considered for academic credit include approved clinical elective rotations, Area of Scholarly Concentration and International Health Fellowship research projects, long-term Global Health Initiative fellowships, and public health field experiences at any one of the global partner institutions or similar rotations at any independent international institutions.

All international rotations that provide academic credit must be formally approved in advance of the rotation by the process outlined in this policy. Rotations or other international programs not approved via this process are considered vacation/non-school sanctioned travel.

Definitions

An affiliated institution/site is defined as any university, teaching hospital, medical school, clinic, and/or nonprofit or nongovernmental organization, either foreign or domestic, that has a formal legal agreement or signed memo of understanding with Northwestern University.

An independent institution/site is defined as any university, teaching hospital, medical school, clinic, and/or nonprofit or nongovernmental organization, either foreign or domestic, that does not have a formal legal agreement or signed memo of understanding with Northwestern University.

Education Programs at Global Health Partners

FSM students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the university’s official global partners.

  • Review application checklist
  • Schedule advising meeting with Associate Director, Global Health Education (IGH)
  • Complete IGH online application
  • Submit letter of good standing from Registrar’s Office
  • Submit proof of primary care health insurance & passport
  • Register for GeoBlue international travel insurance
  • Visit travel clinic as necessary
  • Submit FSM personal health form
  • Submit FSM personal health and safety preparedness form
  • Submit FSM travel waiver form
  • Review FSM Student Handbook for Global Health
  • Complete IGH pre-departure preparation process:
    • Attend at minimum two, in-person global health seminars
    • Complete online orientation tool
    • Submit a 2-3 page analytic memo on a local health issue
  • Acquire away elective evaluation from on-site preceptor (M3s/M4s)
  • Request elective credit from Global Health Elective Director prior to travel
  • Complete IGH online evaluation (upon return)

Education Programs at Non-Global Health Partners/Independent International Sites

Although rotations at global health partners are recommended, research and clinical rotations at independent institutions outside the US will be considered if they a) provide professional development opportunities in health related fields not otherwise readily available at FSM or with FSM affiliated partners in Chicago or abroad; and b) the independent institution has a mission that relates to the health professions and emphasizes improving public, community, and/or global health.

New proposals will be considered by a global health committee on a case-by-case basis and should contain distinction from current rotations available at FSM partner universities.  Formal approval by the Committee and Dean’s Administration must be received prior to departure. 

Rotations at non-affiliated sites that do not provide or have acceptable research and/or educational content, supervision, infrastructure, safety procedures and policies, or are of limited duration of less than four-weeks will not be approved.

Education Programs in Countries with U.S. State Department Travel Advisories

Elective rotations, research and public health projects, and any other international education programs will generally not be approved in countries with U.S. State Department Travel Advisory Levels 3 or 4 due to safety concerns.  In the case of specific partner institutions located in countries with travel advisories with whom Northwestern University has an established relationship and a signed memorandum of understanding, an appeal to the Feinberg Study Abroad Risk Assessment Committee may be made, however there is not guarantee this will be granted as appeals will be judged on a case-by-case basis. This committee, jointly run by FSM and the Institute for Global Health, considers proposals reviews safety and security issues, and assesses the academic merit of the program(s).  This committee will make final decisions regarding international rotations for all FSM students, residents and fellows.  Independent student proposals in any country with a U.S. State Department Travel Advisory Level 3 or 4 will not be considered.  Countries with Travel Advisory Level 2 will be considered, however final approval by the Institute for Global Health and the Vice Dean of Education (students) or Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education (residents/fellows) is required. 

Insurance & Liability

  • All FSM students are required to meet the standards and laws set by local, state, and/or national regulations that apply to the independent institution to ensure that all proper licensure and insurance requirements are met before any clinical or research rotation begins. Particular attention should be given to requirements for medical licenses, registration with the ministry of health, liability insurance, etc.

  • All FSM students are required to register for Drum Cussac travel service and GeoBlue international student health insurance, which are available to all Northwestern University students, faculty, fellows, and staff, before participating in a global health rotation/program.  In addition, all FSM students are expected to enroll in the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

  • All FSM students are required to sign the “Travel Waiver” form before participating in an off-site rotation and submit this to the Institute for Global Health.

Health, Safety & Security

  • FSM places great importance on the safety and security of its students. Proper contingency planning and risk assessment must be made and documented detailing what emergency medical and transportation facilities and resources exist within the community where a FSM student plans to complete the off-site rotation/program.

  • FSM students will comply with the posted Guidelines for Blood-borne Pathogen Exposure and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis at Global Health Field Sites

  • Feinberg students should consult with their primary care physician and are required to make proper preparations and obtain appropriate medical resources regarding their personal health before travel. In addition to a visit to a primary care physician, these preparations may include a visit to an authorized travel clinic for consultation, review of prior immunization records, review of the host country’s entrance requirements particularly regarding immunizations, and ensuring that there will be access to prescription medications and care for emergencies and/or pre-existing conditions. Students will submit a signed Personal Health Form to IGH before travel.

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