International child health electives for pediatric residents

K Torjesen, A Mandalakas, R Kahn, B Duncan
Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 1999, 153 (12): 1297-302

BACKGROUND: International child health (ICH) electives can strengthen the skills and shape the values of pediatric residents. Much can be learned from the literature on ICH electives during medical school. Yet there is little published information regarding ICH electives during residency, nor do educational guidelines for such electives exist.

OBJECTIVES: To describe existing ICH electives among pediatric residency programs and to develop guidelines for ICH electives during residency training.

PARTICIPANTS AND METHODS: A survey of 248 pediatric residency programs in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico was conducted in November 1995. Consensus guidelines were developed by the executive committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Section on International Child Health. Consensus was achieved via full agreement among the 11 committee members.

RESULTS: Survey response rate was 65%. International child health electives were offered by 25% of respondents. Most had no formal educational structure. An additional 42% of respondents indicated interest in ICH electives and requested more information. The AAP consensus guidelines for ICH electives focus on 4 principles: prerequisites, preceptorship, preparation, and evaluation. The guidelines are based on a conceptual framework that emphasizes reciprocity and continuity.

CONCLUSIONS: While only 25% of pediatric residency programs currently offer ICH electives, many more express an interest in doing so. Educational structure for such electives is important and lacking. The AAP consensus guidelines provide a template for meaningful ICH experiences during pediatric residency. These guidelines may be applicable to other specialties as well.

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