Williamson, West Virginia 


Get a head-start on your medical career with GPSA for Health, an intensive, hands-on medical service learning attachment in West Virginia!

Organised by faculty members from Duke and Johns Hopkins University, GPSA for Health is a 9-day course designed for outstanding students aged 15 to 19 years old who aspire to be healthcare professionals (e.g. doctors, nurses, physiotherapists) and/or have a passion for biomedical sciences as well as a big heart for the community. 


Global Public Service Academies (GPSA) was founded in 2001 by Dr. Robert Malkin, a Professor of the Practice of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University in collaboration with MIT and Duke University. The GPSA for Health programme is an immersive, professional summer experience, where students will get to travel to West Virginia, USA and shadow nurses and doctors at clinics, hospitals and rural health posts.

For their clinical service, students are divided into teams led by trained college students (pre-meds from Duke and Harvard), faculty or leaders-in-training. On any day, a participant might facilitate health screenings, including vaccinations and nutritional intervention (e.g. how to measure infant height and weight, how to measure blood pressure, heart rate, etc.), conduct community health trainings on hygiene or nutritional education, or perform volunteer tasks. In West Virginia, students spend a significant portion of their time working at a local clinic. In the afternoon participants will receive training sessions on healthcare delivery and local culture.

And perhaps most importantly – GPSA participants will gain deeper insights into what it’s like to be a doctor or healthcare professional making a difference to underserved communities, and with hope, gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their motivations to be in the healthcare profession.

Selected students can look forward to enjoying these benefits:

  • The chance to train and work with extraordinary faculty and undergraduates from some of America’s best universities, including Duke University and Johns Hopkins University
  • The opportunity to get training on healthcare delivery and to learn about modern, rural life in the USA
  • A head-start on their medical careers by learning basic medical healthcare from trained professionals and applying those skills and knowledge in real, supervised situations
  • A certificate of recognition from one of the most prestigious medical service learning programmes in the world
  • Participation in a GPSA conference at the end of the programme where students and faculty will present their observations, findings and community impact in a professional conference format.


May be modified according to participants' length of stay

  • Day 1: Arrival & Orientation at Duke University 
  • Day 2: Guest lectures, travel to West Virginia, visit community garden
  • Day 3- 4:  Service work, technical and cultural training
  • Day 5: Cultural Day, explore your surroundings
  • Day 6-7:  Service work, written & oral presentations
  • Day 8: Travel back to Duke, Scientific Conference 
  • Day 9: Goodbye Duke!

The detailed itinerary can be downloaded HERE.



The students’ journey begins in their arrival city: Raleigh, NC (RDU International Airport). Shortly after their arrival, the students will travel as a group to Duke University, North Carolina, where the students will spend two intensive days participating in guest lectures and training sessions, etc. On the second day of the program, the students will be traveling to the remote village of Williamson, West Virginia. Williamson is a town of about 3000 inhabitants deep in the beautiful Appalachian mountains of West Virginia, USA, whose rugged inhabitants have been devastated by natural disasters and economic hardship.

Only recently has the city been protected by a floodwall in response to deadly flooding along the Tug Fork River in 1977 and again in 1984. The local economy is largely fueled by coal mining, an industry in rapid decline. The decline is so severe that it recently brought former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the city to discuss the problems of poverty and healthcare in this community.



2017: December 13 - 21 (program duration, excluding flight time)

$5,365 SGD for a minimum group of 9 student participants. (approx. $7,765 SGD including flights)
$5,250 SGD for a minimum of 14 student participants. (approx. $7,650 SGD including flights)

NOTE: FINANCIAL AID is available and participants may apply for financial aid using the financial aid forms that will be distributed along with the application forms (see Important Deadlines below). Participants may receive financial aid coverage up to 70% of the program fees (excluding flights and external expenses).



The tuition fee includes the following:

  • Pre-departure advice and support from Skillseed for participants from Asia
  • Accompanying first aid trained and certified and Ministry of Education registered instructor from Singapore

  • Transportation from the beginning of the programme to the end, including airport transfers, buses, boats, or other conveyances.

  • NOTE: GPSA for Health programme in West Virginia starts and ends at RDU International Airport in Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • Emergency evacuation insurance
  • Housing
  • Most meals (Breakfast/ Lunch/ Dinner will be provided daily)
  • Technical and Cultural Training
  • Textbooks and lab supplies
  • Social activities
  • Field support from GPSA
  • HQ support from GPSA US office
  • Airfare and associated taxes to RDU International Airport in Raleigh, North Carolina

The fee DOES NOT include:

  • Travel Insurance
  • Health Insurance – you must show proof of health insurance including international coverage
  • ESTA (US Visa)- 14 USD
  • Health vaccinations: Participants must show proof of immunization for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Chickenpox,
  • Tetanus (within 10 years), Typhoid, and measles. Your doctor will likely recommend additional vaccinations and treatments.


For applicants from Singapore: Our partner travel agent will handle the bookings, and approximate airfares (approx. $2,400 SGD) are excluded in the program fees on this page. 


GPSA for Health is open to students 15 - 19 years old (Including older students who have not yet attended college) of all nationalities. 

Students need not have any previous experience in medical training, but must demonstrate a passion for this field in their applications and have two references that can support their application.

The course is open to outstanding students in and outside of the USA, and can only accept up to 15 participants.



Please indicate your interest via this form latest by 31st July 2017.

Upon indication of interest, we will email you the application and financial aid forms. Please submit your forms as soon as they are completed as they are assessed on a ROLLING BASIS. Upon receipt of your forms, GPSA staff may schedule a phone or Skype interview with you as part of the next step.  GPSA will stop accepting applications as soon as all acceptance letters have been awarded.

Upon acceptance into the program, the deadline for the deposit (SGD$1,500 per student) is August 15th 2017.

Final payment is due September 15th 2017.



By assisting with the basic health screenings and counseling, the participants help to free up the doctor/nurses' time so that they can attend to patients with complications.


Personal experiences of Alumni from the December 2013 course:

Eileen: "GPSA has helped to cement my desire to work in the field of medicine by allowing me an experience in the field of medicine in real life. Currently I am participating in a sports science research programme in order to expose myself further. However I have other interests as well - I am also an active volunteer with One Earth, a school society that advocates environmental protection, and is involved with its activities."

Tricia: "The experience at GPSA has reaffirmed my decision to pursue medicine as a career, and I continue to volunteer actively in Environmental Projects with ACRES and at Bright Vision Hospital, where I help in Weekend Befriending programmes, birthday celebrations and the occasional fundraising."

Hongzhan: "My GPSA experience helped clarify my questions about a medical career, but I still continue to explore possibilities in other fields. I continue to contribute as part of the Youth Executive Development committee at a People's Association Branch."



In its December 2013 run, several students from Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary) in Singapore had the benefit of attending the course and 100% of them reported that the course:

  •  left an impact on them
  • has been the most transformational experience they had
  • has inspired them to be more involved in community work
  • is highly recommended, and they would recommend the programme to a friend!

"I had hoped to gain more clinical experience and learn how life was like in a medical profession. I managed to get lots of clinical experience by shadowing nurses and doctors, and experienced first hand many medical conditions, which I had previously only read about." 

Eileen Yeap, RGS(S), Singapore


"There was much opportunity for contribution, for instance giving health education talks at a school and tutor the girls at a girls’ home. Watching the patients' progress and students' active participation made the experience memorable and meaningful."

- Tricia Lim, RGS(S), Singapore


“GPSA in St. Vincent showed me the importance of public healthcare, and the needs of improvement in this area in developing countries. This made me want to put in effort to bring about a change in this. It is a very enriching experience that one would not get in one’s home country.

- Liu Hongzhan, RGS(S), Singapore

I hear students say, “When I graduate, I’m going to get a job and make a huge difference in the world.” That’s great, and I hope they do. But there is no reason to wait. High school students can make a difference. College students can make a difference. And they can do it now.
— Dr. Robert Malkin, Founder and Director of GPSA