Exploring Health Care


Program Dates: Postponed until March 2021
Open to: University students from Asia studying in a health-related field (pre-med, pharmacy, nursing, public health, etc)
Location: Based in San Francisco, with visits to Stanford University and other Silicon Valley locations

The Exploring Health Care (EHC) Program connects students from medical universities in Asia with their peers in the US to improve their ability to serve future patients by discovering the best aspects of healthcare in Asia and the United States. Participants will view health care and medicine through the eyes of students, patients, doctors, and researchers. Students from Stanford University and UCSF School of Medicine will join the program as Global Health Fellows and provide mentorship, lead activities and conduct lessons on a variety of healthcare topics.


EHC was initially started by Tokyo Women’s Medical and Tokyo Medical Universities in 1996 and has been offered annually since then by VIA, which was founded at Stanford University in 1963.

The EHC program is offered in two tracks:

  • Both Tracks: Examine approaches to health care and medical education at Stanford University and in San Francisco; explore issues of medical ethics from multicultural perspectives; learn how health care systems are adapting to providing care for LGBTQ communities.
    • Novice Track (1st – 2nd Year Students): Explore additional health care topics and site visits, such as the Stanford Anatomy Lab and the Stanford Life Flight program.
    • Advanced Track (3rd – 6th Year Students): Deepen knowledge through practitioner shadowing.

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Program Costs

The program fee includes:

  • Accommodations
  • Transportation
  • Most scheduled activities
  • Welcome lunch & farewell dinner
  • 24-hour on-site staff support

Total: $4,100 USD (estimated)

Costs NOT included in the program fee:

  • Airfare
  • Travel insurance
  • Most meals
  • Optional activities
  • Personal shopping expenses
  • Vaccinations (advanced track only)


Participants will stay at a hotel in the heart of downtown San Francisco. You will be paired with a roommate to enhance your program experience.

“I was most satisfied with the shadowing experience I had at Arbor Free Clinic. The student doctors and undergraduates were engaged in the clinical setting in a way much more than I expected. Their knowledge, their researching skills, their communication skills, their patient comforting skills, the coordination between each of the clinical members involved…everything was eye-opening.”  – EHC 2015 Participant

“I can’t forget the wonderful and diverse friends I made during this program. All of them were confident in representing their beliefs and opinions, and I was able to have productive conversations on both medical and personal topics. They really got me motivated in creating original opinions and I realized the importance of believing in what I believe.” –  EHC 2015 Participant

“The thing that I enjoyed most about this program was conversations. This includes not only Q&As with those who have us lectures, but also in daily conversations with peers, directors and coordinators! I was able to find someone who shares my interests for the future with me and that has unique and respectable traits. Thank you for great, life-inspiring conversations!” – EHC 2015 Participant

General Application Timeline

  • Application Period
    • October: Applications open
    • November: Information sessions and webinars
    • December: Priority application deadline round 1*
    • January: Final application deadline round 2*
  • Application Review
    • Round 1 interviews: Mid-December
    • Round 2 interviews: Mid-January
    • Successful applicants notified of acceptance within 1 week of interview

*We offer two application review periods to better align with academic calendars of schools across Asia. We encourage everyone to try to submit their application by the first deadline, but we understand that some students may have tests or final papers to submit around this time, so it’s also ok to submit your application by the later deadline. 

Program Preparations*

  • January – February: Participants enroll in online course and begin travel preparations
  • Late February: Submit immunization documents (advanced track only)

*Preparation activities and deadlines may be added/modified any time before the program.

Application Process

To see if this program is a good match, we want to know get to know you: your interests, experiences, and motivation for joining the program. The application includes 3 sections, to be completed in English:

  • Section 1: Personal, University, and Contact Information
  • Section 2: Short Answer Responses
    1. Why do you want to participate in the EHC program? What do you hope to learn or achieve? What do you hope to contribute?
    2. Describe 1-2 health care topics or issues you are interested in, and why they interest you. Possible topics include, but are not limited to: organ transplantation, free clinics for underserved communities, geriatrics, the healthcare system (including insurance), the medical education system, etc.
    3. Why did you choose to become a doctor? How do you hope this program will impact your studies and career?
    4. Help us get to know you better by writing 1-2 paragraphs about your hobbies, your character, and your plans after graduation.
  • Section 3: Interview Reservation
    • At the end of the application, you will be asked to reserve an interview time. If your application passes the initial screening, you will participate in a 15 minute Skype or phone interview with the program director following the application deadline.