Which tropical medicine diploma?

Authors: Christopher Lander, Andrew Young, Lisa McClenaghan, Katie Heseltine 

Publication date:  05 Sep 2017

Do you want to work for international non-governmental organisations, be a travel medicine specialist, a public health advisor, or a tropical doctor in the field? Tropical medicine diplomas expand clinical horizons, develop specialist knowledge, and leave you with contacts throughout the world.

This article looks at four courses. In the UK, London and Liverpool have world leading faculties and superb teaching with excellent alumni opportunities. Abroad, you will be immersed in tropical medicine and have access to bedside teaching and unique field trips. Peru is cheaper, with a focus on the clinical aspects of healthcare, while East Africa offers teaching from the London School’s acclaimed lecturers.

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK

The world renowned faculty has considerable tropical experience—many lectures are given by the doctors who discovered the subject matter. Most sessions are disease centred, with particular attention on malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV. Others involve epidemiology, and child and maternal health.

There is no ward exposure but practical seminars include contact with patients with leprosy and HIV. Parasitology is delivered through lectures and laboratory work. After graduation there are research and clinical opportunities within the UK and overseas.

Based in central London, you can easily access world famous sights, theatres, and nightlife. Faculty events include sports day and picnics, while Fridays usually end at the school’s Pumphandle Bar.

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK

Much of the content of this course is delivered in lectures progressing to clinical seminars. The course is interspersed with modules for HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, and maternal and child health. Although there are regular practical laboratory sessions, the course involves no patient contact.

The school has a prestigious history and lecturers have remarkable skills, knowledge, and experience. There are opportunities to be found through the school’s diverse faculty and returning alumni.

Liverpool has outstanding music, art, and dining venues, and is surrounded by national parks. The school has a cabin in Snowdonia for weekend trips. “International Night” celebrates the cohort’s diversity.

Professional diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (East African partnership), Uganda

This diploma is run by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Concentrating on tropical medicine, the course also covers epidemiology, maternal and child health, and non-communicable diseases. There are two field trips in locations around East Africa.

Afternoons are ward based and include daily Swahili teaching. With East African classmates you discover the practicalities of medicine in resource-poor environments. Exceptional teachers come from around the world.

You will make friends on the walk to lectures or studying after hours—all with Kilimanjaro as your backdrop. The environment is socially intense but you have a private room to retreat to between barbecues and water polo.

Institute of Tropical Medicine, Peru

The course is in English with daily bedside teaching—while some Spanish is useful, there are translators. The lectures are disease centred, and laboratory sessions aim to improve clinical knowledge and skills.

Field trips into the Cusco mountains and the Iquitos jungle combine education and relaxation. The course is short (9 weeks) and there is a huge amount to cover while adapting to a new environment.

Social opportunities include football, surfing, salsa, and climbing. The course finishes with a graduation dinner and party in Iquitos.

Location Duration Cohort Course fees Estimated overall cost (interpersonal variation) Assessment
London, UK 12 weeks 70 students (and 25 MSc students) from around 25 countries £6400Some scholarships available £10 500 Ongoing: practice viva exams, nil formal.Final: multiple choice, short answers, laboratory practical
Liverpool, UK 13 weeks, run twice yearly 90 students. September predominantly UK-based junior clinicians. February more diverse £6000Some scholarships for low/middle income countries £9000 Ongoing: formative assessments.Final: written papers, parasitology practical, vector biology “spotter”
East Africa 13 weeks 60 students. Around a third East African, remainder mainly from Europe, US, and Australasia £7500A proportion of fees goes towards scholarships for low/middle income countries £12 000 Ongoing: essays, presentations, parasitology practical.Final: multiple choice questions, objective structured clinical exam involving real patients
Lima, Peru 9 weeks 36 students, mostly from North America, Australia, and Europe. Many have overseas experience £6600 £10 000 Ongoing: practice exam, nil formal.Final: multiple choice questions, short answers, picture based questions

London: [Link]

Liverpool: [Link]

East Africa: [Link]

Lima: [Link]

We have read and understood the BMJ Group policy on declaration of interests and declare the following interests: none.

Christopher Lander core medical trainee year 1  Barts Health NHS Trust
Andrew Young specialty trainee year 4 paediatrics  London North West Healthcare NHS Trust
Lisa McClenaghan core medical trainee year 2  South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust
Katie Heseltine acute care common stem (emergency medicine) trainee year 1  Barts Health NHS Trust


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