Video upload: Talk on remaining active in global health as a resident physician

by Lawrence Loh, MD MPH —-

65% of matriculating students in U.S. medical schools in 2011 expected to go abroad at one point or another in their career. Survey after survey has found skyrocketing interest in pursuing opportunities abroad. Despite that, once medical students finish their four years and grab that MD, they are often thrown into the whirlwind of internship and residency, and many wonder just how theyll build global health into their career - let alone even hold on to their interest - in the face of clinical and academic demands. 

Invited by the Canadian Federation of Medical Students, I took the opportunity to deliver a speech at their Annual General Meeting in Vancouver last month which highlighted some of the best parts of being a resident… thinking on the general comportment of most residents, many are still unburdened by career or familial ties, and have at least some free time (even if not that ample) to pursue their interests on the side. I discuss briefly the reasons why people want to pursue working abroad; reasons why people dont; reasons why the definitional challenge in global health work continues to confound many (the Lancet definition by Koplan et. al may say that its the issue, not the place its held, that makes it global health, but many students would still want to try their luck abroad) and then go through some of the various ways that one can make it happen.

I also took the opportunity to remind that with global health, as with any other interest, nothing is built in a day. Everything starts from somewhere and especially when building from the ground up, its tough to picture a completed house when all youve got is the foundation. But stopping at the foundation is a surefire way to make sure the house never gets built. Sure, the house might not look like what you envisioned it would look like by the very end, but at least once youve worked away and put in the time needed, youll have somewhere to hang your hat (and shingles)... literally. Rome wasnt built in a day, and neither were the careers of our contemporary global health gurus and role models.

In this ever interconnected world, we at The 53rd Week believe it is actually a good thing that so many young physicians dream of doing work abroad. While being more electronically connected than ever before, that human connection remains the mainstay to exchanging ideas, empathy, and opportunity. Its positive that so many folks want to get into global health; and to see it through residency and their early career. Its time to come up with realistic models and strategies to help nurture that interest in a positive, impactful way.

Check out the video ideas here on YouTube (part 1, part 2, and part 3) - and let us know what you think at


Dr. Lawrence Loh is Director of Operations for The 53rd Week. 

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