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Original Research

The PHI/GHFP-II Employers' Study: The Hidden Barriers Between Domestic and Global Health Careers and Crucial Competencies for Success

  • Sharon Rudy
  • Natasha Wanchek
  • David Godsted
  • Morgan Blackburn
  • Elise Mann



An ongoing discussion in global health in the United States centers on the future of the US-trained global health workforce and how best to prepare professionals for this career path. The Public Health Institute, through its Global Health Fellows Program (I and II), has been in a unique position to identify the shifting employment dynamic in global health.


The purpose of the survey was to gather information on global health employers' hiring practices and insights into the importance of nonclinical skills in contributing to successful professional work; preparedness of graduates with needed nonclinical skills; and the value of domestic work experience for global health careers. The focus was on individuals primarily raised in the United States who studied global health in either graduate or undergraduate settings.


A web-based survey and telephone interviews were conducted in early 2015. Overall, 49 project directors from 32 organizations participated.


Key findings included:

• Eighty-five percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that academia could better prepare students in nonclinical skills.


• The most commonly valued nonclinical skills were program management, monitoring and evaluation, communication with client, counterpart and community, strategy and project design, and collaboration and teamwork.


• Sixty-four percent of respondents had hired domestic health professionals for global health positions. However, only 4% indicated that they had hired 5 or more.


• The top skills that candidates with domestic experience only were found to lack included understanding public health in an international development context and characteristics like flexibility, creativity, and cultural sensitivity.


The process of preparing professionals for global health work has fallen behind emerging realities, including globalization, ever-evolving technologies, and advances in health care. Universities must provide an increased curricular emphasis on nonclinical skills, both interpersonal and business related, as well as the international experience that is valued in the global health workplace.

Published on Mar 15, 2017
Peer Reviewed