First, Do No Harm: A Qualitative Research Documentary

By Maggie Sullivan Moderator | 11 Jul, 2013

This is a 45 minute documentary (freely downloadable to your computer or phone) on the topic of global health clinical electives. This film happens to focus on medical students and Africa (though they did interview one nursing student), but it's applicable to anywhere and everywhere.

It begins by assessing one's own motivation to engage in global health and addressing issues of cultural paternalism, humility, medical tourism/voyeurism and having an experience of education versus an experience of service. It continues with assessing the impact you may have: taking up already scarce resources of education, draining the system and inadvertently undermining the local health care system. Next, it moves on to how to prepare for challenges, for example, being asked to do things beyond our training.

The last three topics are: aiming for sustainability, minimizing the harms and finding the balance. This includes discussion about what is a "fair partnership"?, how can we define our roles in meaningful ways, and how we understand what we are doing and why we're doing it.

I thought it was a great film for those of us who were once students traveling, current students about to travel, educators who brings students to other countries as well as the rest of us affiliated with global health. It's heavy on self-reflection which I appreciate. After watching the whole thing, I can say it's well worth the time.

From the producers:
This is a qualitative research documentary that was created by Alyson and Timothy Holland. The documentary explores the ethics of global health clinical electives and volunteer projects in developing regions. It features interviews from experts and global health providers from Europe, Africa, Asia, North and South America. It is intended for use in Pre-Departure Training for students and volunteers intending to participate in overseas projects. If you would like a free copy of the DVD for screenings or use in pre-departure training sessions, please contact .

To help us assess the impact of the video, we'd really appreciate if you could fill out the following surveys, one before watching (if you've never seen the film before) and one after watching. Thank you!


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