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GEMxSM Representatives Conduct Workshop on International Exchange at 2013 AMEE Conference

Filed under: General

On Tuesday, August 27, 2013, GEMx representatives conducted a workshop on international exchange at the annual conference of the Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE) held in Prague, Czech Republic. Titled “The future of international student exchanges in health professions education: Identifying weaknesses and sharing strengths,” the workshop included a presentation by a panel of GEMx Advisory Committee members and a representative from the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA), followed by interactive, small-group discussions facilitated by panel members.

The workshop sought to identify innovative logistical approaches and resources to help facilitate global student exchange, and to consider some of the challenges and possible solutions facing global student exchange.

Suggestions for resources and logistical support of global student exchange offered at the workshop include the following:

  • Housing should be offered in close proximity to hospital/work environment to increase time for participation in elective and to reduce time spent commuting.
  • Elective experiences must allow students to participate actively and include practical training. It is important that they are more than observerships.
  • Social support and interaction between students will be critical to help students navigate cultural and language barriers. Access to this support could be facilitated through the creation of student networks or group student housing.
  • Systems for exchange should provide students with information on electives and tools for finding and applying to electives.

Challenges and corresponding solutions for global student exchange identified at the workshop include the following:

  • Controlling expenses. Students taking electives often encounter expenses in addition to school fees, such as expenses related to travel. To help control these expenses, schools could offer programs to help defray the cost of accommodations and provide access to low-cost language courses.
  • Ensuring a unique learning experience. Curriculum that is different from what is offered by a student’s home school is of high value to students. To ensure a unique learning experience, expectations of learning outcomes should be established before the elective and formal evaluations should be completed afterward.
  • Patient safety. To ensure the safety of patients, host schools must be clear with incoming students about what they can and cannot do in any activity involving patients.
  • Reciprocity of credit. Both the home school and the host school need to agree on what is expected of a student participating in an exchange and how that student will be assessed.

GEMx representatives described participation in the 2013 AMEE Conference as a success. In addition to building awareness about global exchange in medical education, the conference provided them with an excellent opportunity to gain insights that will help inform the ongoing development of GEMx.