Distinction Program in Global Health

Medical students interested in pursuing focused studies in service, global health, urban health, entrepreneurship and innovation in medicine or Medical Education may apply to the respective Distinction Program at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (NJMS).  Each program is designed as a longitudinal experience that includes interactive didactic sessions, mentorship, experiential learning and a Year 4 Capstone Project. The Distinction Programs are supplemental to the NJMS curriculum and are designed to enrich an interested student’s academic endeavors.  Participants must be accepted into the program, maintain good academic standing and satisfy all program requirements. Additionally, the Distinction Programs afford participants additional opportunities to master many of the NJMS learning goals and objectives, especially:

  • Goal 3: Excellence in Professionalism and Humanism
  • Goal 4: Commitment to the Health of the Community and Appreciation of Social and Cultural Diversity
  • Goal 6: Development of Effective Skills in Education and Communication.

Distinction Program in Global Health:

The field of global health has grown considerably over the past decade and experiencing a surge in support and growth at Rutgers.  A significant majority of medical students now express an interest in learning more about global health, with almost a third participating in a global health experience. In addition to personal enrichment students gain a skillset that they can use in the future to make an impact on their personal medical practices, as well as global health. 

In this Distinction Program, students will study the global burden of disease and their potential role as an actor international development.  Students will further consider the ethics of global health and impact effectiveness when designing their programs.  Finally, students will be supported in this program by program personnel with expertise in global health, including related to their field experience project.  On successful completion of the program students will have gained a strong foundation to be active in global health in a practical, effective and ethically sound manner.

Program Requirements:

  • Participation in all service, global health, urban health, entrepreneurship and innovation in medicine or medical education Distinction Program activities
  • Attendance at a minimum of bi-annual meetings with the respective Distinction Program advisor
  • Attendance at all Distinction Program didactic sessions
  • Development of a Distinction Program portfolio that documents Distinction Program activities and achievements 
  • Completion of a 4th year Capstone elective to finalize Distinction Program requirements
  • Deadlines for application and information session slides are at the bottom of this page

By the end of the global health distinction program, a student will have: 

  1. Worked with an advisor (ex. faculty member and/or community leader) to fulfill the requirements of the Distinction Program;
  2. Developed and fulfilled individual goals and objectives for their experience specific to their scholarly interests;
  3. Planned, reviewed, reflected upon, and completed a scholarly activity that results in a local regional or national reviewed presentation and/or publication;
  4. Developed a network of students, faculty, and leaders with similar service and scholarly interests.

Sample Didactic Content:

  • Planning your Distinction Program journey: reflecting on the past, assessing the present and plotting the future
  • Building a portfolio: transforming service to scholarship 
  • Selecting and starting your Distinction Program project(s)
  • Writing 101:  From spelling and grammar check to a report of publication quality
  • How to critically review literature and conduct a needs assessment
  • Designing, implementing and evaluating your Distinction Program activity
  • Is an IRB application required for your Distinction Program project?
  • Developing and submitting your abstract for a poster or oral presentation
  • Writing and submitting your project for journal consideration

Capstone Project:

  • Based upon didactic sessions, advising, and experiential learning experiences
  • Written paper (length TBD)
  • Oral presentation at pre-graduation Distinction Program symposium
  • Submission of abstract/manuscript to a regional or national conference/journal

Distinction Program Timeline (Years 1-4)

Year 1


Info session for Distinction Program


Distinction Program Application due


Selection of Distinction Program participants


Identify & meet with Distinction Program advisor

January – April

Distinction Program Didactic curriculum (2 hours/month)


Identify a summer experience and commence planning

March – May

Planning sessions related to field experience, including needs assessments, surveys, and post-experience effectiveness assessment (with advisor)


Distinction Program learning experience (summer b/w MS1 and MS2 years)

Year 2


Written progress report of Year 1 activities due

October – December

Didactic curriculum (2 hours/month)

January – April

Didactic curriculum (2 hours/month)

March – April

Mentorship of Year 1 student field experience planning


Poster session of Year 1 & 2 activities/experiences


Leadership role in Distinction Program-related student organizations

Year 3


Written progress report of Year 2 activities due


Reflective write-up of the student’s Distinction Program in the context of a clinical MS3 experience


Reflective write-up of the student’s Distinction Program in the context of a clinical MS3 experience


Continued participation in didactic sessions and mentorship of junior medical students

Year 4


Written progress report on Year 3 activities due


Continued participation in didactic sessions and mentorship of junior medical students

February – April

Enrollment in a 1 month Independent Study to finalize Capstone activities, including: final paper, abstract/manuscript, presentation and scholarly output


Submission of final portfolio


Final paper for Distinction Program due and presentation at yearly NJMS Distinction Program Symposium

Other Notes:

The Distinction Programs do not replace graduation requirements nor are they graded.  To ensure that program participants fulfill program objectives and requirements in a scholarly and timely fashion, their respective advisors and committee will assess student’s performance on a yearly basis and determine whether or not the student may remain active in the Distinction Program. Students who complete requirements for the Distinction Programs will have the program noted in their MSPEs (Dean’s Letters) and on their transcripts and diplomas.