C. Eugene Allen Award for Innovative International Initiatives (III)

2014 Recipient

Tricia Todd
Assistant Director, Health Careers Center (Academic Health Center)

Tricia's idea to explore how students in the healthcare fields can gain experience and insight without compromising ethical concerns was followed up by action. She works collaboratively across the University system, and has expanded that with the inclusion of other colleagues in the U.S., to discuss how best to serve our students in their quest to engage globally.  This innovation is one that began with a compelling interest and has been combined with thoughtful engagement of others in international education. — Meredith McQuaid, Associate Vice President and Dean of International Programs

Tricia Todd with Gene AllenTricia Todd has made significant contributions in the area of ethics for health-focused programs abroad by developing Global Ambassadors for Patient Safety (GAPS), an educational tool for students and advisers, and national guidelines for global health programs abroad through the national professional association, Forum on Education Abroad. She has assisted the University's Learning Abroad Center with the development of health-focused programs and courses by contributing innovative and appropriate ideas and assisting staff and instructors globally as to the unique needs, goals, and challenges of the pre-health students she supports.

Through her work teaching and advising undergraduate students, Tricia became aware of the issue of untrained students participating in inappropriate activities in clinics and hospitals while on learning abroad programs. The timing coincided with her first trip abroad as part of a Curriculum Integration site visit. She collaborated with the Learning Abroad Center to learn more about this issue and how to address it. First she focused on students by developing the GAPS module to educate students about these issues and help them make better choices while abroad. This innovative online course is now required for students participating in a health-focused program through the Learning Abroad Center.

In the process of developing GAPS she noted the lack of standards for undergraduate education abroad programs with a health focus. She suggested the University of Minnesota take the lead at the national level in the Forum on Education Abroad (the national professional association involved in standards of practice for education abroad) and offered to co-chair its task force that developed the Guidelines for Undergraduate Global Health Programs. Although learning abroad and health professionals from around the country and the world were involved in the development of the guidelines, Tricia spearheaded the effort and was the main contributor of the content.

Prior to the development of the Guidelines for Undergraduate Global Health Programs there were no nationally recognized standards for health-focused programs. This was an area that the education abroad community had not specifically identified as a problem and did not have the expertise to address on its own.  The development of the GAPS module is equally innovative. Nothing like this existed before and now that it is available, other institutions and education abroad program providers are reaching out to the University of Minnesota for guidance and to use GAPS in their own organizations.

Addressing the issue of ethical behavior for students on education abroad programs is not without its challenges. It is a complex issue that required input from and collaboration with stakeholders across several fields, including international educators, health professionals, and health education professionals. There is no consensus regarding what constitutes ethical practices for undergraduate students abroad and not all students, advisers, staff, faculty, and health professionals agree with undergraduate students being limited to an observational role in a health setting abroad. This initiative has forced difficult conversations and self-reflection for the different stakeholders involved and could be considered just the first step in a long-term strategy for addressing the issue.

As a result of Tricia’s efforts, the University of Minnesota has strengthened its reputation as an international leader in heath programs for undergraduate students abroad with innovative programs, courses, and resources that provde students with a safe and ethical experience abroad.