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Global Health Externship Program


The College of Dental Medicine's Global Health Externship Program provides students with an opportunity to participate in a service mission in underserved countries.

Global Health Externships

International travel is inspiring and educational and it can be thrilling and challenging, sometimes much beyond what one had anticipated. Each experience is truly unique. It will change your life as you experience the cultural differences among the general population as well as that of the health care field. It will provide new perspectives and insight into the workings of the world. The three goals of the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine (CUCDM) Global Health Externship (GHE) Program are:

  1. To create an awareness of and an appreciation for “dental philanthropy”
  2. To further develop student cultural competency
  3. To provide care where access is very difficult or non-existent

Student “tourism” – Observation Only

Such activities are student-initiated, have no formal relationship with CDM programs and require no approval. They will not be permitted in periods during which the school is in session.

College–sponsored exchange visits with formally affiliated institutions

A number of affiliation agreements exist with peer institutions abroad. These are college-approved affiliations in which a clear understanding exists between the two parties of the expectations and conditions of the exchange visits. The Vice Dean for Academic Affairs is in charge of these and must be contacted for information, permissions, and scheduling.

International “patient care” activities

These activities require approval by the GHE Approval Committee (the Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Alumni Affairs, and the IV Clinical Directors. Approval form is available online. A sponsoring individual doctor or group is needed to provide supervision of any patient care activities. This group must be approved by CDM and clear agreements must be in place to ensure that students will not provide patient care beyond their current level of competence.

These GHE service trips will be allowed for students in 4th year only. Students must be in good standing as determined by the Class Committee. Every attempt must be made to participate in such activities when the school is not in session.

Informal, voluntary externships at other schools/hospitals

Students from CDM often seek to perform voluntary externships at other dental sites such as colleges or hospitals. Externships are an opportunity to observe the protocols, facilities and general operations of other institutions with the purpose of possibly applying through PASS for a Match to that institution for specialty training some day. Also the Program Faculty comes to know the potential applicant. If considering such an activity, please know the following:

  • Voluntary externships must occur during student vacation times; no one is excused from regular academic and clinical duties on site at CDM.
  • We do not execute formal affiliations or agreements with other institutions for such purposes. The legalities are often unacceptably complex and prohibitive involving legal counsel on both sides.
  • Student Affairs is ready to create letters for Academic Good Standing and for Professional Liability while on externship at other accredited institutions.