Study Abroad in Blantyre

The Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital is one of two central hospitals serving Malawi, and as such, receives patients from all over the Southern Region of the country. It is a 900 bed hospital, with specialists in Internal Medicine, OB/GYN, Pediatrics and Surgery (general surgery, orthopedics, pediatric surgery). It is also a teaching hospital: medical students, nurses and medical assistants (paramedical workers) are trained on the wards at QECH, and receive didactic instruction from the various specialists. Local residents are accustomed to students from abroad rotating through QECH. Although few patients speak English, many of those working at the hospital do. They can serve as translators until MSU students learn enough of the local language to function independently in the hospital.

Clerkship Elective for 4th Year COM / CHM Students: Malawi

IM 621: Clinical Tropical Medicine Clerkship

Dates: January 06 to January 20, 2024
The International Health Elective Clerkship provides an introduction for medical students to the practice of medicine in a resource-poor setting. The overall goals of this clerkship are to:

  • Increase awareness of issues involved in the delivery of health care in developing countries.
  • Promote development of the student’s professional attitude, behavior and sensitivity to the challenges and issues of health care in developing countries.
  • Acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to function in health care settings in developing countries.
  • Develop a cultural awareness (customs, nutrition, traditional medical beliefs, etc.) of the patient population.

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  • To learn the etiology, diagnosis, management and control of local endemic and epidemic infectious diseases.
  • To provide general patient care using the resources available.
  • To learn to care for patients with the assistance of interpreters.
  • To derive differential diagnoses and develop management plans utilizing the resources available in the setting.
  • To develop professionally in a new setting by
    • demonstrating ethical behavior
    • developing collegial relationships with peers and staff
    • devoting adequate attention to emotional and physical self-care
    • displaying a willingness to be enriched by the overseas experience.
  • Attend an orientation seminar prior to departure.
  • Complete required paperwork satisfactorily.
  • Spend at least six weeks in Malawi.
  • Demonstrate financial capability
    • airfare (see “Travel & Accommodations”)
    • room and board (see “Travel & Accommodations”)
    • University of Malawi College of Medicine fee ($50/week).
    • Registration with the Medical Council of Malawi (approx $100)
  • Admission to a College of Medicine at Michigan State University
  • Satisfactory completion of core clerkships
  • Satisfactory completion of IM 618, Clinical Tropical Medicine

The Office of Study Abroad offers scholarships to students who participate in MSU’s study abroad programs. Details here

Terrie E. Taylor, D.O. has been a life-long resident of Traverse City, Michigan. She attended Swarthmore College and the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, and then interned at Riverside Osteopathic Hospital in Trenton, Michigan.

Her first global health experience was in 1982, in the context of an NIH-funded research project in the Sudan – her interest in parasitic diseases, her delight in the challenges of working in research limited settings and her willingness to share all of this with medical students culminated in a faculty position at the Michigan State University College of Medicine in 1986 (following an internal medicine residency at Detroit Osteopathic Hospital and a Masters level course at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine). Since then, Dr. Taylor has lived and worked in Malawi for six months each year. Her research focus is the pathogenesis of severe malaria in Malawian children — and she has enjoyed hosting 24 final year medical students from Michigan State in Malawi during her time in Malawi every year. This elective is a capstone experience in many ways, especially in terms of honing physical diagnosis skills. Students are invariably impressed with how well their Malawian counterparts cope creatively in a resource-challenged setting, and return to the States, and their internship year with a new appreciation for the extremes of the human condition.

Travel arrangements are not difficult, but should be made in advance, especially if one is traveling at holiday times. One can travel via Johannesburg, South Africa; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; or Nairobi, Kenya. Round trip costs from Detroit are approximately $2,500. While in Blantyre, students may stay with Dr. Taylor – – other options are available, though. Rent is $25/night, payable through the Office of Education Abroad at MSU; weekly living expenses can easily be kept below $100. There will be opportunities for traveling within Malawi; bus services are extensive and inexpensive. Students with particular interests in mountain climbing, hiking, camping, squash, tennis, snorkeling, etc., should bring the necessary equipment along.

See the travel nurses at Olin Health Center for up-to-date advice! Some or all of these may be recommended:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis A vaccine or gamma globulin.
  • Polio (oral boosters recommended once in adulthood for visitors to Malawi).
  • Tetanus (boosters recommended every 10 years).
  • Typhoid, cholera and rabies are optional.
  • Yellow fever vaccination is not necessary for travel to Malawi, but is worth considering for travel outside Malawi.

Students are strongly encouraged to complete the immunizations listed in this brochure before traveling to Malawi and to comply with a malaria prophylaxis regimen. In addition, students must realize that they may be exposed to diseases for which there is no prophylaxis or vaccination (traveler’s diarrhea, AIDS, intestinal helminths, schistosomiasis, onchocerciasis) and that reasonable self-care precautions should be taken.

A wide variety of clinical experiences can be arranged. While the details of each service will be at the discretion of the attending physicians, Dr. Taylor will supervise MSU students in Malawi in conjunction with her work at the Blantyre Malaria Project. There is a top limit of 2 students per elective during any one block. Clinical experience options include:

  • Internal Medicine (general, TB, HIV-related disease): Includes inpatient care and outpatient clinics.
  • OB/GYN: On average, there are 50-60 deliveries/day at the QECH, including many complicated and prolonged labors.
  • Pediatrics: A wide variety of pediatric problems are seen, on the wards, and in the
  • Paediatric Accident & Emergency area.
  • Surgery: The surgical suites are shared by general surgeons, pediatric, ENT, and orthopedic surgeons.