M.D. with Distinction in Global Health

The M.D. with Distinction in Global Health recognizes students who distinguish themselves in the conduct of meaningful activities in global health during the course of their medical school training.

Individuals satisfying the program requirements will be recognized at graduation and on their diploma as graduating with the degree of Doctor of Medicine, with Distinction in Global Health.

Global Health
Following a six-month clerkship in Paris, students work on two three-month rotations
in lesser-developed countries.


1. Application

Students must submit a formal application to the program before starting any requirements that count toward the Distinction in Global Health and a personal statement describing their interest in global health. The statement should include a description of how the experience will be used in their career path.

They may apply at any point in their medical school career, but applications must be received and approved by January 31 of the year prior to the anticipated graduation date (for example, by January 31, 2017, for an expected 2018 graduation). This deadline is set to make sure all parties are able to review and approve the plan for distinction.

2. Activities in Global Health

Sixteen weeks of Global Health activities are required to apply for a Distinction in Global Health.

There are two common methods of fulfilling the requirements.

Student Exchange Program with Université de Paris Descartes

  • Requirements: Students who have completed either the Global Health preclinical elective or successfully completed an orientation provided by the International Office, have passed the Alliance Francaise standardized exam for language competency, have completed the clinical clerkships, and are in good academic standing are eligible to participate.
  • Activities: The Exchange Program includes a minimum of two clinical clerkships (three months each) at the Université de Paris Descartes. Available rotations include internal medicine (rheumatology, orthopaedics, dermatology), pediatrics (hematology), and obstetrics and gynecology. Students will be required to complete all academic responsibilities and pass all written and oral examinations to receive credit for the rotations.

Following the six-month experience in Paris, students applying to the M.D. with Distinction in Global Health will arrange activities along two distinct pathways:

  • Clinical pathway – Clerkship through the ERASMUS program in a low- or middle-income country (“LMIC”) for the remainder of the 12-month period abroad or an equivalent experience (global health project via SOLEM). These experiences must be approved by the designated liaisons at both schools. If the experience is composed solely of clinical activities, the student will prepare a scholarly work centered on a topic of direct relevance to Global Health. The scope and nature of this review must be approved in advance by the student’s committee.
  • Research pathway – Basic and clinical research clerkships are available to UTSW students via Institut Fédératif de Recherche Necker-Enfants Malades (IRNEM) for periods up to one year. The project and program to be pursued must be reviewed in advance by the program directors. If elective credit is desired, the basic requirements of the research elective must be met. Students pursuing this opportunity must produce a scholarly document centered on their research activities.

Independent Track

Student-designed activities may fulfill the requirement but must be reviewed and approved in advance by the Global Health Student Affairs Committee.

Global Health Track

  • Completion of the preclinical global health elective
  • Completion of the MS4 global health elective
  • Poster submission to the UTSW Medical Student Research Forum
  • Sixteen weeks of international practicum (clinical and research with no more than eight clinical observation weeks)
  • Capstone paper and presentation
  • Mentorship throughout medical school by an assigned faculty mentor with expertise in Global Health

To apply for the Global Health track, students must submit an application by January 1 of their MS1 year.

Other international health activities may fulfill the requirement but must be reviewed and approved in advance by the review committee.

3. Capstone Paper

As the project nears completion, the student will submit a thesis to the Global Health Student Advisory Committee (GHSAC). A capstone paper should describe the objectives, programs, and activities the student has conducted during the year abroad or their elective activities.

The main body of the paper should include a scholarly review of the literature based on an experience or observation a student has during their international clinical rotations.

Finally, it should conclude with a reflection of the impact the experience had on their future career goals. An initial proposal followed by the complete scholarly product will be submitted to the committee for review and approval.

All members of the GHSAC committee and the Associate Dean must sign the capstone paper by April 1 of the graduating year. Students should begin to circulate their thesis by February 1 to make sure committee members have time for change feedback if needed.

A copy of the capstone paper will be archived within the library collection and the Associate Dean will keep the formal signed paperwork.

4. Capstone Presentation

A formal presentation of the program or results will be made to an audience that includes the members of the student’s committee. This presentation must be presented before March 15 of the graduating semester to be included on the diploma.

Distinction Process

Here is a general timeline:

  • January 31 year before graduation: Complete an application for distinction.
  • August 15 year of graduation: Confirm that you are still seeking the distinction and meet with your mentor to confirm that you have planned all the requirements.
  • January 1: Have all courses completed or registered for to complete distinction requirements.
  • February 1: Send primary mentor thesis for approval and have presentation scheduled.  
  • March 1: Send all committee members the approved version of your thesis.
  • March 15: Deadline for completing the presentation.
  • April 1: Final copy of thesis signed and turned into the Student Affairs office for submission to the Library.

If a student disagrees with the decision of the committee, it is first the obligation of the student to make a good-faith effort to resolve the matter with the faculty member involved. Further appeals should be directed to the Associate Dean, and then to the Dean of the Medical School. The Dean’s determination is final.