Global Emergency Medicine

This is an exciting subset of UNC Emergency Medicine (EM) focused on emergency care capacity-building through clinical care, research, and educational program implementation in East Africa.  Components of UNC Global Emergency Medicine include:

  • Volunteer international relief;
  • Clinical rotations in East Africa for students and residents;
  • Cross-cultural "observational" experiences (here at UNC);
  • Global Emergency Medicine academic concentration;
  • Global emergency Medicine/Infectious Diseases educational module; and the
  • UNC EM Global Health and Leadership Program (GHLP);

Dr. Ian Martin attends to a child at a volunteer-built clinic on the Maasai Mara in Kenya.

Volunteers from UNC Emergency Medicine (including faculty, residents, students and nurses) travel to East Africa yearly to provide care to a variety of patients in great need. The volunteers, under my direction, are able to provide this most important care to hundreds of patients through donation of our own time and resources. Additionally, we solicit private citizens, pharmaceutical companies, and organizations like MAP International for medication donations for use during the relief trips. We also partner with local student organizations to secure many of the supplies, such as gloves, syringes, and bandages used to care for our patients. Additionally, other EM faculty members at UNC, like Dr. Wesley Wallace, organize similar efforts in other parts of the World, like South America.

Interested mature EM residents can elect to do established clinical rotations, under my supervision, in East Africa. The purpose of these rotations is to prepare Emergency Medicine trainees, volunteering in low income tropical nations, to care for patients presenting with fever and a myriad of other disease states, including trauma and heart disease.  Several of our EM residents have also completed Global Health-focused clinical experiences in South and Central America and Southeast Asia.

UNC Global Emergency Medicine, under my leadership, is particularly committed to the development of Emergency Medicine as a specialty in East Africa (namely the Republics of Kenya and Tanzania). To illustrate this point, I partnered with three other North Carolina-based emergency physicians and the Abbott Fund to open the first of its kind British or American-styled Emergency Department in the capital city of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.  Also to this end, we here at UNC Global Emergency Medicine are conducting important epidemiology and Cardiovascular related research in both Kenya and Tanzania.  Novel data from this research is helping to shape future research, policy, and educational initiatives in the East African region as it pertains to emergency care capacity-building.

Our Chair Emerita, Dr. Judith Tintinalli, continues to arrange cross-cultural "observational" experiences for foreign physicians. She has, for example, facilitated invaluable "observational" rotations in our ED for physicians from Japan, South Korea, and Jordan.  Dr. Tintinalli contiues to use her fame and notoriety to help get Emergency Medicine recognized as a specialty around the world.

Others of our EM faculty, including Drs. Eugenia Quackenbush and Jonathan Jones, have benefited from the opportunity to learn from emergency physicians in Japan.

Dr. Eugenia Quakenbush and Dr. Jonathan Jones meet with representatives in Tokyo, Japan.

Emergency Medicine residents interested in a career in Global Emergency Medicine can participate in the Global Emergency Medicine academic concentration. This very exciting and academic concentration involves interested residents in national groups focusing on Global Emergency Medicine (e.g., SAEM's Global emergency Medicine Academy (GEMA), EMRA's international committee as well as ACEP's International Section, etc).


Residents participating in this concentration are also integral in the planning of relief trips—helping to design a budget, plan logistics, and manage personnel. The participating residents help to coordinate the Global Emergency Medicine/Infectious Diseases educational module—in fact leading some of the didactic sessions. It is our ultimate goal that residents on this pathway successfully matriculate at the Global/International Emergency Medicine Fellowship Program of their choice.

As you can see, if you are interested in Global Emergency Medicine, UNC is a great place to be! There are opportunities for almost anyone affiliated with UNC—whether a student, nurse, resident, fellow, or attending. Please contact us if you would like more information.

Ian B.K. Martin, M.D., FACEP
Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine and Internal Medicine
Program Director, UNC EM Global Health and Leadership Program
Associate Program Director, Emergency Medicine Residency
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Medicine