While it is impossible to remove all potential risk from field immersion experiences, it is important that students exercise caution and take preventive measures to assure safety while working overseas.
We empower students to embrace new opportunities with greater knowledge and confidence, reduce the likelihood of emergencies, and provide students with the tools and information on how to deal with unexpected events. Students pursuing field immersion/Doctoral Projects with any travel – domestic and/or international – are required to complete the following steps to help ensure a safe and well planned experience.
If you are traveling and think you are in an emergency situation, please go directly here.
Emergency Contacts & Preparation
For the Team-Based Field Immersion, we recommend you set up a WhatsApp travel group that allows you to share travel information and emergency contact details with your team and emergency contacts in the case of an emergency. During other periods of travel, you may want to set up a WhatsApp travel group with your emergency contacts. Students should note that the Harvard Chan’s leads on Health and Safety are Leah Kane, Director for Student Affairs and Colleen Cronin, Associate Director for Student Affairs; you should also copy Rick Siegrist, Faculty Director of the DrPH Program, on any emergency-related communications.
Prior to the first team based immersion, students are required to attend a scheduled school-wide Global Support Services and Travel Assist Session before undertaking school related international or domestic travel trips. Domestic travel trips apply to students undertaking field immersions/trips outside of the Boston area.
Prior to any international trip, all degree program required travel should be entered in the International SOS. Be sure to enter your program, faculty director, lodging, transportation and emergency contact information in MyTrips. You will also want to register with the embassy of your country of citizenship. In an emergency, International SOS, which is available worldwide, will provide you with medical referrals & security advice and emergency evaluation and repatriation. Before you go, visit: Travel Tools & Resources.
If you are traveling on Harvard sponsorship, you are required to have health insurance. While International SOS provides access to medical and travel assistance services, it does not provide health insurance coverage. So, you need to talk with your health insurance company about coverage abroad.
If you are covered by the Harvard Student Health Insurance Plan, administered by Blue Cross Blue Shield, you have coverage when traveling outside the United States, although you will be responsible for any applicable deductible, copayments, and coinsurance. For more information about the specifics of this coverage when traveling abroad, please see: http://hushp.harvard.edu/travel-outside-us.
If you waived the Harvard Student Health Insurance Plan, you will need to check with your insurance company to determine the extent of your coverage. When you call your health insurance company, you should ask the following questions (1) do you have coverage outside the US, (2) are there limitations to coverage, (3) does overseas care have a higher deductible or coinsurance and (4) does your insurance company have a network in the country in which you are visiting.
If your health insurance does not provide coverage when you are traveling abroad, you will be required to purchase a short-term international health insurance plan.
If you are conducting research with human subjects while abroad, please refer to IRB website. Research with human participants includes not only medical or biological but also surveys, interviews and records review. Prior approval from IRB is required and the review process can take at least 1-2 months. You should check with your host organization of interest to inquire whether they have IRB approval for your work. Harvard Longwood Medical Area (LMA) Office of Human Research Adminstration (OHRA) can also provide guidance regarding IRB approval or exemption. Please plan for at least one month for this review process. More information is available on the OHRA Website.
For further assistance, please consult with Alyssa Speier, the Assistant Director of Regulatory Affairs & Research.
Safety and Security
Before departure, familiarize yourself with current information on health and medical facilities, as well as personal safety and security at your destination. Carefully consider your safety when arranging local lodging and transportation.
All DrPH students are required to attend a pre-departure online travel orientation hosted by Harvard Global Support Services before the Team Based Field Immersion and before embarking on Summer 2 and their Doctoral Projects.
The following resources may also prove useful depending on your destination:
U.S. State Department Travel Warnings,
U.S. State Department Country Specific Information Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) and
Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Travel Safety Questionnaire
If you’re traveling to high-risk regions with Harvard sponsorship, you’re required to complete the following steps: (1) typically one month prior to travel, submit a Travel Safety Questionnaire to our International Safety and Security team. Harvard Global Support Services will share your questionnaire with the designated School official; (2) depending on the travel, we may request a follow-up consultation, usually a brief phone call; and (3) based on our recommendations and in consultation with you and any involved faculty, the designated School official may require additional safety measures and/or trip adjustments as a condition of receiving Harvard funding, credit, or other sponsorship.
Travel Waiver and Release
If you are traveling with Harvard sponsorship, either domestically or internationally, you are required to submit a Travel Waiver for Field Immersion or Winter 2 Experiential Learning, and an “Assumption of Risk and General Release” form for the Doctoral Project to Program administrators. You will be asked to sign a waiver and release upon picking up your travel stipend and completion is required before any project approval will be granted.
Visit a travel clinic or your doctor for a pre-travel health consultation, including any specialists, at least one month before travel. Depending on health risks for your destination, you’ll need to factor in time to take single or multi-dose vaccinations.
Obtain a passport, required visa or letter of affiliation well in advance, as the process for each of these can take weeks and sometimes months. International Students should consult with the Harvard International Office and Elizabeth Capuano, the HIO advisor for HSPH. http://hio.harvard.edu/office-hours#sthash.T3krjOet.dpuf