Using photovoice to encourage reflection in health professions students completing a short-term experience in global health

Melody Ryan, Hartley Feld, Rebecca Yarrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective. To engage health professions students in a photo and caption sharing methodology to stimulate reflection and inculcate principles related to global health at a formative time in training.

Methods. Undergraduate and graduate students from multiple colleges enrolled in a course that would prepare them for an in-country global health experience. As part of the course, participants took photos to illustrate one of three topics: global health ethics, interprofessional practice, or social determinants of health. The iterative and participatory photovoice process was used for students to analyze, discuss, and reflect on their work in country and upon return. Final photos with captions were displayed online. Researchers analyzed photos and captions using content analysis to identify unifying themes. All students were required to complete the photovoice assignment, but only those who gave informed consent were included in the qualitative analysis.

Results. Twenty-six students were included in the analysis. Two overarching themes emerged: revelation and adaptation. Revelation encompassed novel elements that surprised the students, including differences and similarities between the United States and Ecuador. Coded segments related to adaptation discussed participants’ resourcefulness while challenging work environments, and how they would apply this new perspective to their future practice in the United States.

Conclusion. This global health photovoice project provided a unique medium for reflection for health care trainees. This project enhanced our understanding of the learners’ perspectives and this new means of expression offered the learners a greater opportunity for deeper reflection. The assignment also revealed gaps in learning related to social determinants of health and areas of concern related to solidarity and privilege.
Original languageAmerican English
Article number7630
JournalAmerican Journal of Pharmaceutical Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • photovoice
  • reflection
  • global health
  • education abroad
  • Medical mission


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