Debriefing is an important part of global health work abroad. Global health activities have proven benefits, but also have associated risks that include individual and patient safety, occupational health, as well as ethical challenges.

Based on research within our faculty and national guidelines we have been a national leader in successfully establishing mandatory pre-departure training for UGME students doing electives in low and middle income settings.  Now, we have established an innovative approach to the development of an effective debriefing program to support trainees taking part in these global health activities.  

To truly address the health and wellbeing of medical trainees, the current training program for those doing global health work has been extended to include a debriefing component. Particularly since, as our research and other research has demonstrated, there are many instances of patient-, ethics-, and safety-related experiences that need to be processed and resolved by the trainee to ensure appropriate wellbeing with reintegration into the training program in Canada.  

Debriefing allows learners to reflect on their experiences and translate their newly acquired skills and knowledge to other students. As well, these sessions enlighten students to how they can incorporate these experiences into future career planning. Ultimately, we hope to share some global lessons learned that can be anonymized to help future students and others undertaking global health experiences. 

The debriefing session usually includes: 

  • a semi-structured objective-based discussion and. 
  • a shared narratives based on photos taken by returning learners incorporating a process called Photovoice. 

Learners will be notified of dates and instructions, once their application for a global health placement is approved. 


"The post-debrief program allowed me to gain positive closure on my summer elective by discussing and sharing my experience with others in a safe and confidential environment. I personally enjoyed hearing other's reflections and diving into a variety of themes (medicine, research, social inequities, culture and tourism) that highlighted each and every ones trip." – Lucia Chehade, MD/PhD Candidate, Faculty of Medicine.