Preparing to Go

OHIO students in safari jeep

How To Select A Program

The OHIO Office of Global Opportunities provides a listing of considerations on their website. Special considerations for Global Health Programs are listed below.


  • Language – English-speaking or not? Depending on the location, work is conducted in English or through translators. Some programs offer medical language training as part of the program.
  • Global Health areas of interest – Program locations offer a varying degree of educational, research and clinical opportunities. For the health professions, some programs offer broad clinical or research experience while others are focused by disease such as Chagas or specific health issues like HIV/AIDS. There are also opportunities to explore different health care facilities and systems in a developed country, or build diagnostic and communication skills working in a low-resource area of a developing country.

Comfort Level

  • Do you want to work with a group or independently?
    • If you’d prefer to travel with other OHIO students and an OHIO faculty member, select an OHIO faculty directed program.
    • If there isn’t an OHIO program in your interest area, you can check out the organized global health programs available through a third party organization. The Global Health Initiative has developed relationships with two third party providers: International Service Learning and Child Family Health International who offer opportunities at sustained community health programs in several countries. The Office of Global Opportunities provides a list of other organizations, several of which offer global health related opportunities.
    • Independent Global Health and/or medical related travel opportunities are also possible. Requirements for participation in these programs vary by College (Heritage College or Health Sciences and Professions) and by major.
  • How long do you want be away? The length of most OHIO programs vary from a week to four weeks. Opportunities through third party providers offer the flexibility to determine a longer length of stay depending on your interests, status and requirements of your current degree program.

Living Arrangements

  • Do you want to live with a family or homestay?
  • Would you prefer hotel, dorm or apartment accommodations?
  • Would you be comfortable with rustic accommodations?
  • Are you willing to share a room?

Financial Considerations

  • Travel awards are available through the Global Health Initiative to Heritage College and the College of Health Sciences and Professions students for OHIO Global Health Faculty Directed Programs. The Office of Global Opportunities also offers travel awards and funding for research is available through various campus sources.

Pre-Departure Preparation

The information found here will help you prepare for your time abroad. Please take the time to read through the information to gain a greater understanding of global health and your role in it.

The information will:

  • help you plan and think about a global health experience
  • give you information about global health as a whole
  • describe some of the medical and clinical conditions that you may encounter
  • review the travel materials/forms that you need to complete.

Our hope is that you or your group will use this site to not only better prepare for your trip, but also gain new insights and perspectives that will enhance your trip and help integrate your experience into your career.

First Do No Harm: A Qualitative Research Documentary - This documentary explores the ethics of global health clinical electives and volunteer projects in developing regions.

You may also want to check out this International Travel Checklist on Pinterest.

On Site

Medical Care while Abroad

Review your health insurance information before departure. You should also find out what medical services and providers are available at your destination. Your faculty director, preceptor or program coordinator may provide you with this information, but if they do not, do the research yourself. The Office of Global Opportunities website has more information on medical services and providers. If you have a more serious illness or accident, you should contact your program director or on-site coordinator/preceptor and involve them in any action that you take. They can help you with language issues with the doctors and with contacting others such as your family. In serious cases, they will also contact Ohio University or your program provider to keep them apprised of the situation.

In the Conditions of Participation you signed when applying to study abroad, you agreed that Ohio University and its agents (i.e. faculty director, contracted organizations) have the authority to secure medical treatment on your behalf in case of accident or injury, and that you accept financial responsibility for all treatments. Many hospitals abroad demand payment for services up front, even in an emergency. Your coordinator may be able to help with this, on the condition that you pay him or her back. You should keep all receipts for medical care and a list of any medications and treatments you receive abroad. When you return to the United States you can turn the receipts with your claim in to the health insurance provided and take the record of your treatments to a doctor.

Non-medical Emergencies while Abroad

Your faculty director, preceptor or program coordinator can assist you during a non-medical emergency, providing advice on replacing lost or stolen items and working with local police. They are also the ones who work in close coordination with American and foreign authorities in the case of a political or natural crisis. You should look to them for guidance and follow their instructions carefully. Another source of information is the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

While abroad, you are subject to the same laws and rules as a citizen of the host country. It is important to know that the U.S. Embassy has only limited services if you are arrested; they can only assure that you receive due process as defined by the host country, arrange for legal aid and help your family in the U.S. understand the situation.

If a natural disaster or political situation warrants, your program may be moved to a different location or canceled. In this case, your director, preceptor or on-site coordinator will be in contact and help you in the move, including arranging return air tickets if necessary.

Checklist for Living Abroad

  • Contact your family to let them know you arrived safely.
  • If you receive medical care, save all receipts. If you are an HTH network provider, you may not need to save receipts. Visit OGO Website for more information.
  • If you receive medical care, save a list of treatments received and medications taken to share with your doctor when you return to the United States.
  • Review the customs guidelines for departing your host country and re-entering the United States.
  • Take pictures, write in your journal, call home, and have fun!
  • If you are on an exchange or non-OHIO program, complete and submit your Verification of Enrollment once you are enrolled in classes. This form must be submitted for every term you are abroad.
  • If you are on an exchange or non-OHIO program, have your official transcript sent to the Office of Global Opportunities.
  • Emergency Numbers: If you need emergency support from the Office of Global Opportunities, please call 740.593.4583. Outside of regular office hours (EST), follow the prompts to reach the on-call staff person.
  • For information on doctors, hospitals or other information in your area you can contact International SOS at 1.215.942.8478.


Share Your Experience

We want to hear from you! If you would like to share your experiences while on-site, you can post pictures, brief updates or your trip blog URL on our Facebook community page or e-mail us at

When You Return

  1. Complete the program evaluation that will be sent to you by e-mail within one month of your return.
  2. Heritage College Global Health Elective rotations: Refer to the appropriate OCOM 8911 Syllabus for full details on return requirements. These include a five page paper and a presentation of your experience to other Heritage College students. If you are a fourth year student, traveling in late March or April, please contact the Global Health Initiative to make special arrangements for early completion of course requirements so that grades may be submitted in time for graduation.
  3. All faculty directed program participants: to receive credit for your experience, check with your program director/preceptor regarding post trip requirements in order to receive full credit for participation.
  4. Students in the clinical professions must send results of post-trip TB test at 10 weeks to the Global Health Initiative.
  5. Reflect on your experience.
  6. Share your experience with family, friends, Ohio University and the broader community. Contact the Global Health Initiative if you would like information on opportunities to speak and/or share photos on your experience.