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Global Health Field Experience Health & Safety 

Global Health Students who want to experience global health first hand will need to understand the following:

  • The limitations in what you can and cannot do when abroad
  • Ethics, Integrity, Professionalism, and Reciprocity
  • Health, Safety, Security and Risk Management

All students must:

All students traveling abroad must:

Pre-Departure Requirements

General Online Orientation

How to Complete the General Orientation

As a requirement of participation in study abroad at UC San Diego students must first complete an online general orientation prior to departure. The orientation should take about an hour to complete. Participation will be recorded and is a requirement of study abroad.

Directions to access the online orientation. Please read the following directions carefully:

  1. Access the Moodle Link at the bottom of this message.
  2. Click on Programs Abroad Orientation
  3. Sign in using your Student SSO
  4. Self-enroll into the orientation by using the access code: 726
  5. Enter the online module and begin

Tips for success: Use a laptop or desktop computer. Mobile devices are not supported. Recommended browsers include Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari. You may exit and re-enter the module at any time and resume where you left off. The self-check questions contained in the orientation are not graded; only your completion of the orientation will be recorded.

At the end of the orientation click on the Submit button to record your completion of the orientation. There is no need to contact the Study Abroad Office to confirm participation. (If you experience technical difficulties or trouble accessing the orientation, please contact the Study Abroad Office at

Moodle Link:

Access Code: 726

Topics to be covered:

  • Pre-departure logistics
  • Health and safety abroad
  • Adjustment
  • Administrative process

Orientation handouts:

Passports & Visas

Passports and visas are two very important types of documents that you will need when you study abroad.


You must have a valid passport to travel abroad. If you already have a passport, check the expiration date now. It must be valid 6 months beyond the end of your program. If you need to apply for or renew your U.S. passport, it may take as long as eight weeks, and a renewed passport will have a different number. UCSD Mail Services is the closest passport processing location. If you are not a US permanent resident, discuss with your advisor what paperwork you need to complete in order to re-enter the United States.


A visa is official permission to visit a country for a specific purpose and time.  Some countries charge or require an in person interview for a student or long-term stay visa; some countries do not or you may be able to apply on-line. To learn about the requirements for your host country and any countries you might visit while abroad go to the US Department of State website.

  • Check with your program sponsor about visa procedures.
  • Check the country-specific information maintained by the U.S. State Department.
  • Get more information from the embassy or consulate of your destination country

Applying for a Visa

The exact process for applying for a visa will vary depending upon the type of visa and the country. In general, to apply for a visa you will send your actual passport (not a copy), student visa application, and any other required documentation via certified mail, UPS, or FedEx (the consulate will usually indicate a preference) along with a return, self-addressed, pre-paid trackable envelope to the consular office of the country you plan to visit. The consulate will stamp your passport with the visa and return it to you. You generally apply to the consulate that serves the state of your permanent residence.  

Processing Time

Obtaining a visa could take as long as one to three months so begin early. You will not be able to apply for the visa until you are fully accepted by your host institution or program, but it is a good idea to begin gathering the needed information for your visa as soon as you apply for your program.  The embassy/consulate website or documentation that accompanies your visa application will usually indicate how long it will take to process the visa.

International Health Insurance

Health Insurance Guidelines

Be sure to obtain health insurance for your time abroad if your program doesn't provide it.

Refer to the San Diego Immunization Branch for more information on recommended immunizations and medications for the country you are going to. This site also lists contact information for travel physicians in San Diego County.

Learn more about how to insure yourself while you're abroad

Program-sponsored insurance

Many study overseas programs, particularly those administered by U.S. institutions, require that you buy special health insurance developed for students participating in their programs. Those of you enrolling directly at foreign institutions, however, may not be provided with such an opportunity. Check to see if your local carrier will cover you while abroad.

University of California Traveler Insurance

Students who have completed the OAP paperwork are eligible to sign up for University of California Traveler Insurance. This is a comprehensive policy, and it is free! Even if your program already provides insurance, it is a good idea to apply for the UC insurance as well.

Other insurance companies

If you are traveling independently and have not completed the OAP paperwork, there are several policies developed for U.S. students who will be spending time studying, working or traveling abroad. See for a list of Travel Insurance Companies.

Make certain that you have health insurance, including a US funded policy that provides for the following:

  • Copy of policy in English
  • Policy must be valid during the entire school year or term of study
  • Medical benefits of at least $100,000
  • Co-payments not to exceed 25%
  • Repatriation benefit of $7,500 minimum
  • Medical evacuation benefit of $10,000 minimum
  • Deductible no more that $100 per injury or illness
  • Policy funded in the United States
  • Pregnancy covered the same as any other condition
  • Be aware of the benefit period, to cover travel or other activities before or after your international program.
  • Verify whether the policy will cover you in the US as well as overseas in case you come home for a visit.
  • Check the insurance company rating, such as A.M. Best or Standard and Poor rating.
  • Find out if it is a reimbursement policy. This means that you are expected to pay for medical services at the time you receive them, and you will be reimbursed for those expenses at a later date, sometimes as many as several months later.
  • Be sure to read about the exclusions!! Many insurance policies exclude sports related injuries and other common types of illness/injury.

Student Health - Before and during travel

Students should complete a health clearance at Student Health or at a private physician's office prior to travelling abroad. 

Health Exams: 

Even if your program does not require a medical exam, we strongly recommend that you have one. Also, some countries have medical requirements for their entry/student visas. To schedule an exam with UCSD Student Health visit: Also, for additional health information see: Be sure to look at health requirements and recommendations for your specific country:

Immunizations: Refer to the San Diego Immunization Branch for more information on recommended immunizations and medications for the country you are going to. This site also lists contact information for travel physicians in San Diego County.

The International Travel Clinic can help you protect your health before, during and after foreign travel. Your personalized travel package for a healthy, safe trip includes:

  • Travel consultation with medical professionals
  • Advice on preventing illness while traveling
  • Education on safety concerns about food, drink and recreational activities

Mental Health: Before you leave home, disclose any health concerns so arrangements can be made if your condition requires continued treatment or specific support.

Watch this informative video about mental health and study abroad:


Also see:

Travel Health and Safety

*The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program is a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country. Registration allows you to record information about your upcoming trip abroad that the Department of State can use to assist you in case of an emergency.

U.S. State Department

The U.S. Department of State issues travel advisories whenever circumstances warrant them. You or your parents may reach the Bureau of Consular Affairs/Office of Emergency Citizen Services at 1-888-407-4747 for travel advisory information and any other consular service.

Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements are also accessible through Similar information will be available at U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.

It is your responsibility to learn about your field experience environment and to make sure that you are comfortable making decisions about travel, money and social settings abroad.

Travel Health & Safety Guidelines:

Tips for Travel Abroad (from the U.S. State Department )

  • Register with the State Department: U.S. citizens should register travel plans with the State Department through a free online service at This will help us contact you if there is a family emergency in the U.S., or if there is a crisis where you are traveling. In accordance with the Privacy Act, information on your welfare and whereabouts will not be released to others without your express authorization.
  • Sign your passport, and fill in the emergency information section: Make sure you have a signed, valid passport, and a visa, if required, and fill in the emergency information page of your passport.
  • Verify your overseas medical insurance coverage: Ask your medical insurance company if your policy applies overseas, and if it covers emergency expenses such as medical evacuation. If it does not, consider supplemental insurance.
  • Familiarize yourself with local conditions and laws: While in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws. The State Department website at has relevant information.
  • Tip: Share copies of itinerary and passport data page: Leave copies of your itinerary, passport data page and visas with family or friends, so that you can be contacted in case of an emergency. Keep a digital copy of these records in an accessible, secure, password protected location (e.g. email account, thumbdrive, DropBox, etc.)
  • Contact information in case of an emergency: Consular personnel at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad and in the U.S. are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens. Contact information for U.S. Embassies and Consulates appears on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website at Also note that the Office of Overseas Citizen Services in the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs can assist with emergencies at 1-888-407-4747, if calling from the U.S. or Canada, or 202-501-4444, if calling from overseas.

Overseas Citizens Services

  • From U.S. and Canada: 1-888-407-4747
  • From Overseas: +1 202-501-4444

Services and Information for American Citizens Abroad
Travel Advisories and Warnings

General Sites

Armchair World: The well-informed traveler 
Association for Safe International Road Travel
Overseas Security Advisory Council
USC SAFETI Clearinghouse
U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
Visa information for traveling to other countries
What’s Up with Culture? Online orientation

For UCSD Students:

Emergency Contact Information

EAP Students
24-hour emergency number - (805) 893-4762

OAP Students
Study Abroad Office front desk - (858) 534-1123  (Leave message after hours)

Global Seminar Students 
Study Abroad emergency number – (858) 688-2373

Assessing and Reducing Personal Risk

The Peace Corps sends about 5,000 Americans to a wide range of countries every year, and has some of the best training available to prepare their volunteers for some demanding conditions.  Here are excerpts from their Pre-departure training handbooks that can be found at

Women’s Safety

Her Own Way
Journey Woman

Understanding Workplace Hazards

Global Health Field Experience Ethics & Cultural Considerations

Know your limitations:

Students should not be providing direct patient care, such as testing, diagnosing, or treating patients. Your role is to observe, learn and document your experience. (Source: Guidelines for Premedical and Medical Students Providing Patient Care During Clinical Experiences Abroad (AAMC))

Additional Resources:

Article: Some Health Programs Overseas Let Students Do Too Much, Too Soon (Fischer, 2013)

Article: Global Health Ethics for Students (Pinto, Upshir, 2007)

  • "As a result of increased interest in global health, more and more medical students and trainees from the ‘developed world’ are working and studying in the ‘developing world’. However, while opportunities to do this important work increase, there has been insufficient development of ethical guidelines for students. It is often assumed that ethics training in developed world situations is applicable to health experiences globally. However, fundamental differences in both clinical and research settings necessitate an alternative paradigm of analysis. This article is intended for teachers who are responsible for preparing students prior to such experiences. A review of major ethical issues is presented, how they pertain to students, and a framework is outlined to help guide students in their work."

7 worst international aid ideas, Matador Network (2012)

Volunteering and Voluntourism: The Good, The Bad, and The Questions You Should Ask (2015)

Cultural Competency Resources


Additional Resources