The goal of GASP, our charge and mission together, is to raise awareness of and work to address the ‘pull’ factors of unethical/untrained activities by pre-health students while abroad. In particular, we wish to address the ‘pull factors’ of students being under the impression that premature hands-on patient care bolsters medical and health professions school applications.
Many of us believe that international experiences can be transformative and under the appropriate guidance/boundaries/structure can be a fruitful experience for both host communities and students. However, we all agree that there are too many unqualified students going abroad and overstepping ethical and professional boundaries. The premise of this group is that until the medical/health professions and academic health sciences (each of us acting within particular professional realms and disciplines) are clearer and requirements for admission more specific about what is desirable, as well as astute at vetting the appropriateness of global activities during interview/admissions processes, students will continue to seek out ethically tenuous experiences in the vein of trying to get into medical and health professions schools. In turn, these activities only serve to reinforce health disparities, differential treatment for the poor, and unacceptable opportunity costs compared to appropriate global health/international education and engagement.
This group (GASP Working Group) represents over 18 health-related disciplines, more than 20 academic institutions and several of the leading program providers who emphasize boundaries for educational and service experiences related to health. The uniqueness of this group is that it aligns similar dialogues happening in disciplines such as dentistry, midwifery, medicine, health professions advising, service-learning and beyond. Critically, we span many sectors and audiences. This will serve us in bringing this strategic advocacy effort back to our thought/leadership/academic communities to form powerful synergies and alignments.