Global Health Scholars Program


The Global Health Scholars Program (GHSP) is a collaborative project, developed in conjunction with multiple departments including Family and Community Medicine, Humanities Medicine, Pediatrics, Public Health Sciences, and Penn State’s School of Nursing.  GHSP is an innovative approach in allowing students and faculty to participate in making a difference for people in an impoverished setting.  

The GHSP will allow medical (and in the near future nurse practitioner) students to work together, both in the classroom as well as in the field.  Supervised by faculty, the Global Health Scholars take part in two immersive trips to Ecuador.  The first trip primarily entails an introduction to the community and participation in developing a community health project.  The second trip, occurring in the students’ senior year, will allow students to implement health improvement projects.  Students will also receive pre-trip safety sessions, in-country medical education specific to Ecuador, and several sessions by our faculty on global and community health related issues.

Through this longitudinal relationship with the Ecuadorian community, it is our hope and expectation that students and faculty will be greatly enriched and the health and welfare of the people of Ecuador will be measurably improved.

The GHSP is open to first year medical students attending Penn State's College of Medicine and each year 5-7 students will be selected through a competitive application process.

Through completion of this four-year track students will receive the following:


  • Credit for completion of GHSP specific electives (new 2009-2010)
  • Letter of completion of the GHSP
  • Mentoring relationships with highly interested faculty
  • Opportunities to develop medical Spanish skills
  • Potential completion of Medical Student Research project (MSR) requirement

Under the direction of faculty, students will gain skills for community engagement, basic health data collection and analysis, and community health intervention development with implementation.  Students will be integral decision-makers in the program with the goal of measurably improving the health of the residents of San Pablo, Ecuador.

Please also visit the GHSP Wiki Site for further information about the partnering community, San Pablo.
Click here to view the Frequently Asked Questions.


  • December 1st:  Application process closes
  • December 31st:  Scholars are selected and notifications are mailed
  • January:  Orientation and Welcome session
  • February, March, April:  Monthly Global Health Sessions
  • Mid-May:  Pre-trip educational sessions
  • Late May thru Mid-June:  Trip to Ecuador with faculty

GHSP Master Calendar



Community Engagement Goals[i]
A major focus of the Global health Scholars Program (GHSP) is to produce measurable and sustainable improvements in the health of residents in a specific, underserved community in Ecuador. The program will use participatory and evidence-based approaches to develop, implement and evaluate health initiatives in the host community. The program will provide a structured and evaluated service-learning opportunity for students and faculty, primarily using regular trips to the Ecuadorian community.   Specific goals will include the following:
C1.    Produce a sustainable, collaborative model of resource delivery through students’ participatory learning.
C2.    Develop innovative and creative means of utilizing limited healthcare and financial resources for the betterment of the host community.
C3.   Educate Global Health Scholars on basics of Community-Oriented Participatory Research, a range of available resources, challenges to implementation of community health intervention strategies, and the importance of health improvement sustainability at the local level.
C4.   Advocate for the host community in Ecuador, raising awareness of health issues and resource needs.
C5.    Disseminate results of host site health interventions
Educational Goals:
The GHSP seeks to produce a campus-community model of health care delivery and a global health education curriculum that is adaptable to other campuses and underserved communities. Specific service-learning educational goals will include:
E1)    Gain improved knowledge of and ability to practice community-based medicine in an international setting. Develop baseline skill-set required for Community-Oriented Participatory Research, including a realization of the inter-relatedness and complexity of influences on health. 
E2)    Achieve a deepened understanding of cross-cultural relationships and further develop the ability to work under diverse social, economic and cultural situations.
E3)    Be exposed to public health research, funding agencies, and resources available for global health delivery and research.
E4)    Develop a sense of global health advocacy and global citizenship. Appreciate the role of a physician as a change agent for community health.
E5)    Disseminate the results of their experiences and findings. 
E6)   Articulate the value of Primary Health Care as a health strategy to reduce disparities and improve health.
E7) Develop physician-leaders that exemplify humanitarian medicine through expressions of altruism, compassion, caring, and duty to the underserved.

[i] The Community Engagement Goals are in keeping with the Strategic Plan for the Health Sciences at the Pennsylvania State University which seeks to “improve the health of humans by improving quality, access, and cost of healthcare for the Penn State community, the Commonwealth, and beyond.”
University Health Sciences Council, “Strategic Plan for the Health Sciences at the Pennsylvania State University.” December 3, 2008.