Global Health & Disparities Path of Excellence

The Global Health & Disparities (GHD) Path of Excellence is the first co-curriculum program offered to UMMS students.  It was created to provide students an opportunity to integrate foundational, investigative, and experiential learning to become agents of sustainable change to reduce domestic and global health disparities. 

Global REACH helps to facilitate the international activities of UMMS constituents.  As such, GHD and Global REACH become complementary partners in facilitating UMMS students' activities in global health disparities. 

The GHD program aims to provide a flexible, mentored, self-regulated environment to shape student learning within the domains of:

  1. Social determinants of health disparities,
  2. Tools and strategies to promote sustainable change,
  3. Health care systems and policy, and
  4. Professional and leadership development.

A series of noontime lectures and seminars review key aspects of global and domestic disparities in health and health care. Students have the opportunity to do advanced reading and synthesize the content of the lecture or seminar through a brief written assignment highlighting essential concepts related to health disparities.

Students interested in a focus on disparities throughout medical school can submit a brief application and participate in the GHD Path of Excellence beginning in the spring of the M1 year.  Application information is available on CTools (“Global Health and Disparities”).

The GHD Path is a co-curriculum – complementary to, and alongside, the standard curriculum – that operates through structured, learning experiences.  Key elements include mentored small group learning experiences, portfolio-based learning and documentation, competency-based assessment of mastery of core skills, and a required capstone project that integrates learning through practical experience in an underserved setting in the Unites States or a developing country.  Students who successfully complete the GHD path receive special recognition in the Dean’s letter, which includes a description of the tasks and competencies of the GHD Path. 

Curriculum - M1-M2 Years:  During the fall of their first year, students are acquainted with the goals and expectations of the GHD Path.  Interested students begin planning a disparities-related summer experience after the M1 year, either in Michigan or a developing country, and prepare a brief application to the GHD Path.  Accepted students enter the GHD Path in the spring of their first year. 

Through the remainder of the M1 and M2 years, GHD students:  a) complete a summer project related to health disparities, b) participate in a longitudinal, mentored small group with trained faculty to master core knowledge and skills related to caring for vulnerable populations, and c) develop a plan to complete a capstone project during fourth year (some summer projects may qualify). 

Small group experiences incorporate a variety of learning formats that focus on:  a) understanding the social determinants of health, collaborative program development for sustained change, and quantitative skills in research and program evaluation; b) networking and organizational competency; c) career planning; d) information and social media skills; and e) leadership development. 

Curriculum - M3-M4 Years:  During clinical clerkships GHD students apply knowledge and skills in caring for vulnerable patients, and meet occasionally with their small groups to reflect on their experiences.  During the M4 year GHD students will plan and implement mentored month-long projects in underserved settings, complete their capstone projects, and finalize a career development plan.

GHD Scholarship Program: Senior medical students enrolled in the GHD Path who identify opportunities for 1-2 month experiences in low resource settings – both international and domestic – are eligible to apply for support for experiences that focus on such areas as research, development / implementation of innovative health-related interventions, program evaluation, needs assessment, or education program development. Up to a maximum of $4,000 for international and $2000 for domestic experiences to cover travel, lodging, and food expenses directly related to an off-site scholarship experience.  Maximum allowable amounts will vary depending on usual travel (i.e., distance), and local food and lodging expenses. Students must submit a budget with their application.  Find the full program information here (PDF).

Administration:  Brent Williams, MD, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, and Senait Fisseha, MD, JD, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, serve as Co-Directors of the GHD Path of Excellence.  The GHD Path is operated by a Faculty Steering Group and Advisors, with regular input from students.

Further information about the UM Medical School Global Health and Disparities Path of Excellence is available from Dr. Williams (, Dr. Fisseha (, or Heather Wagenschutz (