Log in




Program Overview

The ITSDP International Observership Program (IOP) allows program participants to observe different components of trauma and emergency systems at  VCU Department of Surgery, Division of Acute Care Surgical Services, Richmond Ambulance Authority, and the VCU Center for Trauma and Critical Care Education.

Scope of the International Observership Program -IOP

The goal of the IOP is to facilitate knowledge transfer from VCU Health System experts to foreign medical professionals through an informal shadowing program. Observers have exposure to the latest information, technology, clinical protocols, and best practices. 

Target Audience

 The IOP offers international medical students, physicians, and fellows the opportunity to observe our surgeons, physicians, and residents in training and participate in discussions, patient-oriented activities, and academic sessions. 


  • Observers will be able to observe their host faculty in the clinical setting and attend lectures and meetings.
  • Observers will be accompanied by an attending physician, fellow, resident, healthcare staff, or supervisor at all times when observing patients.
  • Observers will not be able to perform or be involved in any patient care or research.
  • Observers will not have access to patient records, library, or email privileges.
  • Observers must maintain the high levels of confidentiality of VCU Health's proprietary information.


  • The duration of the observership varies from 2 weeks up to 3 months upon the observers' academic level and objectives
  • The IOP starts every first Monday of the month, and participants receive a certificate of attendance at the end of the observership.

Rotation Areas and Sites

Observers may rotate in different areas of trauma and emergency systems, including:

  1. Pre-hospital services/ EMS
  2. Trauma Bay
  3. Acute Care - surgery trauma Intensive Care Unit
  4. Post-Hospital Care
  5. Center for Trauma and Critical Care Education
  6. Performance Improvement Program
  7. Ultrasound in emergency and trauma

ITSDP collaboratively partners (Host institutions) include:

Virginia Commonwealth University - Richmond, VA USA:

Other Partners in Richmond, VA USA

Other medical centers in the USA offering observership opportunities:

Standard Program Activities at the Division of Acute Care Surgical Services of the Department of Surgery at VCU. Participants may have the opportunity to observe activities related to:

  1. Trauma Surgery – ICU. The participant may observe critical care management activities via ICU rounds and participation in the discussions. The Observer will also participate in the weekly teaching seminars of the Division of Acute Care Surgical Services.
  2. The ACSS Trauma Systems, EMS, Center for Trauma, and Critical Care Education (CTCCE). The Observer will learn about different EMS systems in the Commonwealth of Virginia, including medical air services and emergency rescue services; the participant will ride along with the rescue squad. They will also attend trauma and EMS training sessions and continuing education events conducted by CTCCE. At CTCCE, the participant has the opportunity to observe the type of skills and personnel needed for program planning and management and curriculum development. All the knowledge and information gained through this program are crucial for planning, developing, and enhancing EMS systems.
  3. The ACSS Trauma Performance Improvement Program (PIP) and the Trauma Registry. At VCU, the participant will observe the Performance Improvement/Trauma Registry Coordinator activities, who utilizes clinical expertise to extract data, assign abbreviated injury scores, identify, report, and follow up on data quality issues. The PIP/Registry Coordinator analyzes data and develops reports for statistics, research, and planning. The Observer will gain insight into the importance of the trauma registry as a tool for performance monitoring and continuous quality improvement. Moreover, the Observer will learn the structure and operating processes of a Trauma Medical Audit Committee and the value of developing a peer review committee analysis of preventable pre-hospital and in-hospital factors contributing to trauma deaths.
  4. Ultrasound in Emergency & Trauma. In addition to the activities mentioned above, the observer's rotation may include training in Ultrasound in Emergency and Trauma with emphasis on echocardiogram and FAST under the leadership of Dr. Paula Ferrada.  

Program Requirements

Observers must comply with the following requirements.
  • Minimum education - Observers must be graduates from a medical school.

  • English Proficiency - Observers must be proficient in English, and they must provide proof of English skills (Toefl test scores or certificate of a language school)
  • Visa – Observers will be required to have a B-1 (Temporary Business Visitor) visa. Please note ITSDP is unable to assist in processing visas. 
  • Application - Interested participants must apply for at least six months before planning their visit to the observership site.
  • Program Fees - Observers will be responsible for their travel, accommodation, living expenses, and an application processing fee.

Contact Information 

  • For rotations at VCU - Participants who wish to observe activities at VCU may contact  ITSDP Coordinator, for more information and requirements. 
  • For rotations in other Observership Programs. Observers who wish to observe activities at another medical center may contact the coordinators at those medical centers.

NOTE: This program offers only Observational learning:

This program is strictly observational. A participant shall in no way be permitted to participate in patient care or direct contact actively, examination, research, or other work during his/her observership.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software