These continue to be unprecedented times for all in the healthcare field, and particularly for those of us engaged in global health.
Certainly, we are in a better place now than we were two years ago. But many uncertainties remain, and travel abroad continues to be fraught. This is true for faculty with extensive international experience and long-established partnerships overseas, and it is especially true for students who may be headed into a setting for the first time. Today more than ever, it is vital that the institution partner closely with students to ensure reasonable safety precautions are taken before and during overseas travel.
For these reasons, we at UMMS have instituted a new international travel requirement: effective immediately, medical students planning to engage in international travel for clinical electives and/or research field work must obtain authorization from Global REACH. Personal travel is exempt, as is travel for academic conferences unless the destination has been designated with a travel warning for restriction by the University.
You can learn more about the new requirement and the authorization process at the Global REACH website. While it does add an additional pre-departure step for outbound students, we’ve worked to minimize the time required from you to minimize what is required from you. The Global REACH team, in close cooperation with the Office of Medical Student Education, has developed plans to process these requests quickly and efficiently, and I anticipate that the majority of requests will be approved. Just in the last few months, we have approved student travel to Brazil, Ghana, Japan, India and elsewhere.
The new requirement was not put in place to dissuade international travel. Rather, obtaining authorization will help us keep better track of who is where at any given time – a significant factor in introducing the new requirement. Should the need arise to facilitate urgent travel home (as happened the early days of the pandemic), we want to be able to get you back to Ann Arbor quickly and safely.
If students or faculty mentors have any questions about this new policy, I encourage them to connect with the Global REACH team. In the meantime, thank you and safe travels.
Joseph C. Kolars, MD, MACP
Sr. Associate Dean for Education and Global Initiatives
Director, Global REACH
Director, U-M Center for Global Health Equity