MPH program launches International Health Exchange Program

July 13, 2016

HERSHEY, Pa. — A group of students from Taiwan and the Republic of Georgia is participating in a two-week training program in public health systems on the Penn State College of Medicine campus.

As part of their experience in the Penn State Public Health Program, Master of Public Health (MPH) students have the opportunity to complete internships and fieldwork internationally. The global health practicum serves as a chance to learn about public health challenges and solutions through international learning experiences. The Penn State International Health Exchange Program (IHEP) was established by the Public Health Program as a way to make these connections reciprocal, affording current Penn State students experiences at select international sites and allowing students from those sites to complete their training in Hershey.

Penn State IHEP students from Taiwan and the Republic of Georgia arrived on Sunday, July 10. Through July 23, they will engage in faculty lectures, cultural exchange with public health and medical students, and volunteer activities. They will also participate in discussions with public health leaders throughout the region, including meetings with Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Karen Murphy and Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine; Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore’s health commissioner; and lawmakers in both the Pennsylvania General Assembly and U.S. Congress. The visit will allow the students to observe stakeholder roles in public health at the local, state and national levels and compare the programs to those of their own countries.

The visit from the delegation of international students comes on the heels of a signing ceremony in Taipei, Taiwan, between Dr. A. Craig Hillemeier, dean of Penn State College of Medicine, and Taipei Medical University (TMU) leadership. The memorandum of understanding between the College of Medicine and TMU makes official their agreement to strengthen and expand the mutual contacts between both universities. In addition to the ceremony, deans and faculty, along with Penn State public health and medical students who are completing their international field experience through TMU, participated in activities to learn about Taiwan’s health system.

Penn State IHEP builds upon earlier initiatives at the College of Medicine, such as the Global Health Scholars Program, designed to offer experience abroad to medical and public health students who are highly motivated in advancing global health systems.

“Penn State IHEP is a significant step for our global health program, which aims to bring students, faculty and health professionals together to examine public health issues affecting the world,” said Vernon M. Chinchilli, Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences at the College of Medicine.

In both directions, Penn State IHEP is intended to build and strengthen students’ public health practice knowledge and increase their comprehension within the field. It will also lead to international learning opportunities for students in health professional graduate programs, while fostering university-wide and international partnerships in education and practice across Eastern Europe and Asia. 

Penn State’s Public Health Program aims to advance theories and practices that prepare future public health leaders, improve population health and reduce health disparities — across Pennsylvania, the U.S. and globally — through excellence in education, research and service. To learn more about Penn State’s graduate programs in public health, visit

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated July 13, 2016