Medical and Surgical Missions

There are two different types of international clinical electives available through IMP: standard clinical rotations at academic teaching hospitals and clinics abroad, or participating in a medical or surgical mission. See below for specific information on international medical and surgical missions.  


All GW medical students applying for an international mission must have already completed all core clinical clerkships at GW. This includes two months in internal medicine; two months in family practice; two months in pediatrics; two months in OB/GYN; two months in surgery; and two months in psychiatry. Students must also be in good academic standing at GW SMHS.  

All GW students participating in an international mission, regardless of the site or duration, must be registered in IDIS 349: International Medicine and Surgical Missions during their time abroad, ensuring the student receives academic credit for the experience. 


Students electing to participate in a medical or surgical mission usually do so with a community service organization or joining a mission facilitated by one of the GW SMHS clinical departments. Missions are typically one to two weeks in duration and may have different activities based on the organization. For example, past students have assisted and observed cleft pallet surgeries with Operation Smile, joined GW SMHS family medicine physicians on missions to central America, and more.  


Application deadlines and requirements vary by organization, but typically requires students to submit a copy of their CV and personal statement at least three months before the scheduled mission. After receiving acceptance from the NGO, IMP will provide students with detailed predeparture information, including completing an online Global Ambassadors for Patient Safety training and purchasing an international insurance plan through GeoBlue, which is required for all GW students traveling abroad.  

Tuition & Fees

Most NGO’s will charge a program fee for students to join a mission. However, that program fee will cover the cost of your accommodation and meals while abroad. In addition to the program fee, students are responsible for arranging and the cost of their flight. Scholarships are available through IMP and applications are accepted on a rolling basis. 


Each student will be assigned a mentor on the mission team, who will assess the student's performance and give him/her a written evaluation. Upon completion of the mission, students must also submit 3-5 photos and a reflection paper to the IMP Office. Reflection paper guidelines will be shared with students after they are accepted by the mission organization. 

Students’ grades for IDIS 349 will be issued by the Associate Dean for International Medicine. The grade will be a combination of the evaluation (completed by in-country mentor), and the student’s reflection paper.