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Clinical Services Abroad

Clinical Services Abroad and Global Health

Clinical service abroad is a specific set of activities that requires specific health, project management, and student activity oversight, in addition to all the other general travel considerations detailed for other activities on this site.

Last updated: 19 Oct 2016

Planning International Human Subjects Research

When planning international human subjects research, remember to gather the following materials for IRB submission:

Initial protocol application

You must include the Initial protocol application and associated documents (e.g., surveys, questionnaires, study information). The application must list all international locations involved in the study, and the research plan must indicate that this is an international protocol. All foreign investigators collaborating in the research study must be listed on the IRB application. Include any aliases or alternate spellings and affiliation information.

Informed Consent Documents

Informed consent document(s) in English. Informed consent documents should be translated into the local language after IRB approval. Translated documents should state who performed the translation services.

Local Approval

Investigators must comply with both U.S. regulations and local policies and regulations governing the international research sites. All studies must have evidence of local approval by an IRB, Ethics Board, or Independent Ethics Committee (IEC) familiar with the local research context and local law, or a letter explaining why such a review is not possible. If no local ethics approval is in place, at a minimum, there must be endorsement of the project by the local authority/institution involved in the research. No research can begin until local approval has been obtained and submitted to the UC IRB. It is important to do your homework early and, if possible, enlist a local collaborator to help you address the site’s requirements to obtain local ethics reviews and permissions to conduct research at that international site.

Planning Ahead

Last updated: 30 Nov 2016

Clinician Liability Insurance

If you are practicing under the auspices of your employment, your liability insurance provided as part of your employment will cover you. If your job description does not cover your activities, you may not be covered. When you are in the United States, you have defined protections as a physician volunteer (part of HIPAA) but when you travel abroad the federal protections do not apply.

Each country has its own laws. If you plan to practice medicine as a volunteer abroad you are strongly advised to do so under the auspices of an international volunteer organization with a well defined presence in your host country.

For more information review the Professional Medical & Hospital Liability (PL) program offered with Office of Risk Services.

Foreign Liability

The Office of Risk Services has arranged foreign liability insurance for university operations outside the US. Review the Risk Services foreign liability insurance page for more information.

Last updated: 5 Jul 2016

Illness on Clinical Service

During your medical elective or travel abroad, you will encounter diseases you have never seen during your training that are commonplace abroad. Take the time to find out more about the infectious diseases in the country you are visiting. See The Elective Pack: A Medical Student’s Guide to Essential International Health and Development.

  • Visit UC Trip Planner to find information and travel tips specific to the country or region you will be visiting.  Register your travel before you leave at the UC TRIPS site to trigger your UC Student Off-Campus Travel Accident Benefit and iJet travel alerts. Print and carry your ACE insurance card with you at ALL times during travel.
  • UC Travel Accident insurance provides evacuation assistance or medical support during political turmoil or medical emergency. The system provides iJet alerts regarding political, medical, or logistical situations in real time via email or text.
  • UC travelers who become ill or who are injured (including bloodborne pathogen exposure), or have symptoms should contact the service via the numbers provided at registration. They have contacts available 24/7, can refer you to the BEST care in your area, and can facilitate local interventions as well as having a person onsite if that is needed. When care has been initiated, contact your supervisor or departmental manager as soon as possible so that they are aware of the situation and can help out as needed.

Please see the Illness or Injury Abroad page for more general considerations for illnesses or injuries while traveling abroad.

Hand Hygiene

Because you do not have partial immunity to local pathogens, it is essential for you follow preventative measures to decrease your risk of getting ill. Hand hygiene is the most important activity to prevent transmission. Clean your hands with soap or alcohol‐based hand rub before and after routine patient care activities and after hand contaminating activities. Always clean hands after removing gloves.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Use PPE (i.e., gowns, gloves, masks, eye protection) to reduce the risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens. Gloves must be worn: 1. To provide a protective barrier and to prevent contamination of the hands, 2. For anticipated contact with mucous membranes and non‐intact skin, and 3. For invasive procedures.

UC supervisors are required to ensure access to appropriate PPE, regardless of location. Please review the UC policy on PPE for more information.


Last updated: 22 Aug 2017

Upon Your Return

Please visit the Returning from Abroad page for more general information on returning from travel.

Health Check

It is essential that you contact your campus Occupational Health Office before you return to work. Travelers returning from high incident Tuberculosis areas require a TB skin test or symptom review 12 weeks following their return. Your Occupational Health Office can detail their return to work protocol. Schedule an appointment with your doctor up to a year after travel if you:

  • Experience severe symptoms such as fever, prolonged cough, weight loss, diarrhea, abdominal pain, bleeding, unusual rashes, etc.
  • Have known exposures to TB, bloodborne pathogens, GI pathogens, exotic parasites, etc.
  • Need a pre‐natal consult
  • Need to get a PPD test for TB (make sure you get one 8‐12 weeks after you return)

Return Paperwork

  • Fill out the reporting forms that have been put in place by your department and funding source.
  • Submit the travel expense report to document expenditures within 14 days of returning from your travel to justify your Travel Advance, if applicable. Ask your program administrator for more information. 
  • Complete your immunizations and medications. If you started a series of Hepatitis shots, oral antibiotics, or malaria prophylaxis, finish them.
Last updated: 30 Nov 2016

System-wide Resources

UC Global Health Institute

The UC Global Health Institute (UCGHI) advances the mission of the 10-campus University of California system to improve the lives of people in California and around the world. By stimulating education, research, and partnerships, UCGHI leverages the diverse intellectual resources across the University to train the next generation of global health leaders and accelerate the discovery and implementation of transformative global health solutions.

Centers of Expertise

As part of the UCGHI, there are three multi-campus, multi-disciplinary Centers of Expertise. They are:

  • Migration and Health: Seeks to improve health and eliminate health disparities of international migrants, refugees, and internally displaced people around the world. The Center implements graduate education, conducts research in immigrant and refugee communities, establishes distance education opportunities, and develops transnational collaborations.

  • One Health: Seeks to assess and respond to global health problems arising from the human-water-animal-food interface and to design, implement, and evaluate practical, cost-effective, and sustainable solutions that focus on the foundations of health in collaboration with local partners.

  • Women’s Health and Empowerment: Seeks to promote justice, equity and scientific advances to reduce gender and health disparities globally. The Center’s core activities focus on ensuring safe motherhood, reducing violence against women, improving access to family planning and reproductive technologies, advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights, preventing HIV/AIDS, and reducing environmental threats to women’s health.

Campus Global Health Programs

Other Resources

Consortium of Universities for Global Health

The Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) is an organization of over 130 academic institutions and other organizations from around the world engaged in addressing global health challenges. The CUGH builds interdisciplinary collaborations and facilitates the sharing of knowledge to address global health challenges. It assists members in sharing their expertise across education, research, and service.

CUGH Global Health Training Modules

Webinar: "Rules for the Road: Global Health, Safety and Security for Deploying Students, Staff, and Clinicians Overseas"

The Practitioner’s Guide to Global Health

The Practitioner’s Guide to Global Health is a series of 3 multidisciplinary timeline-based, interactive, evaluative, open-access courses to prepare students and trainees to safely and effectively participate in global health learning experiences. Upon successful completion of the course, students may generate a PDF certificate.

The 3 courses are as follows:

  • Part 1: “The Big Picture” (to be completed 6-12 months in advance) covers several important “big picture” questions: Why do you want to have a global health learning experience? What kind of experience is right for you and your current level of training? When would be a good time? Where should you do it? How will you fund it?

  • Part 2: “Preparation & On The Ground” (to be completed 1-3 months in advance) covers the logistics of planning, security, transportation, communication, personal, health, academic; health: vaccinations and prophylaxis; cultural awareness and sensitivity; packing; logistics and cultural awareness on the ground; and dealing with unexpected situations on the ground.

  • Part 3: “Reflection” (to be completed toward the end of your rotation or on your way home) helps you prepare to return, contains important information about dealing with unexpected feelings and health issues, and helps you plan for future work and sustainability.

University College London

The Elective Pack: A Medical Student’s Guide to Essential International Health and Development

Global Health: Science and Practice

Checklist of Specific Actions for Developing Safety and Security Plans

Last updated: 22 Aug 2017
Last updated: 19 Oct 2016