Global Health: Ethics of International Medical Volunteerism
According to the most recent survey of graduating medical students, 27 percent had served at least 1 elective abroad in a developing country. The December issue explores the benefits of such service for the students as well as for the patients and physicians of the host country. The clinical cases ask how much doctoring students should be allowed to do abroad, how they should respond to restrictions or “gag rules” imposed by a sponsoring organization, and how they should handle differences with local physicians over clinical decisions. The remaining articles and essays assert the ethical imperative of volunteer service abroad while cautioning against “medical student tourists” who may volunteer for less-than-altruistic reasons.