We have been pioneers in global health education providing international experiences to students for more than 30 years. In recent years, Global Health Educational Programs have expanded into Montefiore's Primary Care, Social Medicine and Family Medicine residency training programs. Stimulated by a sustained and increasing interest and enthusiasm expressed by many of our psychiatry residents, we have developed global health electives that emphasize mental health.
Montefiore psychiatry residents can spend one month studying global mental health in one of three diverse international communities: Kisoro, Uganda, Bogota, Columbia, St. Moritz and Switzerland. Each setting offers a unique venue to experience and learn more about differing perspectives toward mental health diagnosis and treatment, while being fully immersed in the local culture.
Residents can participate in clinical, public health or research experiences in developing nations to gain a deeper understanding of how economic and sociocultural factors influence the health of individuals and populations. They also observe firsthand how political climate, inadequate resources, lack of health education and extreme poverty in rural, underdeveloped regions affect the course and treatment of psychiatric, substance use and medical illnesses.
In addition to working in a local community hospital, residents partner with local mental health healers and visit homes in remote rural areas to evaluate and treat patients and families.
Residents acquire knowledge about both the universality of psychiatric illness, as well as how local culture and values shape and alter management and outcomes. They learn about diseases that are unique or especially prevalent in these regions and obtain valuable insights into the organization and effectiveness of these nations' healthcare delivery and public health systems.
In Switzerland—a first-world, economically strong country—opportunities to study alternative models for mental healthcare provide an enriched understanding of modern mental healthcare delivery systems. These systems can be compared and contrasted with approaches in the United States with emphasis on healthcare economics, public policy and organizational strategies.