Medical Semiotics is the study of the symptoms and signs of illnesses. The ability of a physician to promptly recognize disease with the sole history and physical represents the most important clinical tool available. One additional challenge faced by physicians-in-training is dealing with cultural differences that exist, and often also language barriers. The objective of the course is for the student to familiarize with the more common manifestations of diseases by analyzing the different symptoms and signs. The student will be evaluated based on his/her behavior at bedside and on a multiple option questionnaire testing the ability to recognize and describe the major clinical syndrome affecting the cardiovascular, respiratory and digestive systems.
Translational Research describes the process by which scientific knowledge is acquired and applied for the understanding and treatment of medical illness or promotion of health. Interacting with researchers and physicians with experience in the USA and Europe will expose the students to what is considered the universal ‘language of science’. The objective of the course is for the student to understand the formal process of hypothesis generating, experimental planning, and testing, with the aim of narrowing the gap between scientific discovery and clinical therapeutics. The student will be evaluated based on his/her behavior in the classroom and the laboratory and on a multiple option questionnaire testing the ability to recognize and describe the processes and challenges of clinical and translational research.
Applicants must be active members of the Honors College from all academic disciplines with a strong interest in the health care professions. Program will be open to students with at least a 3.5 GPA. Honors College students who are rising Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors and who have taken BIOL 151: Introduction to Biological Sciences I and who have basic knowledge of Italian Language or who plan to complete a 1-credit course in Italian in preparation for the trip are encouraged to apply.
A letter of reference Student will need to submit three contacts as reference to the program director. All applications will be reviewed once the program has closed.
Students who are accepted into the program will receive a $2,000 scholarship from the Honors College towards their program fee.
Antonio Abbate, MD, PhD is the “James C. Roberts, Esq.” Professor of Cardiology in VCU Pauley Heart Center. Dr. Abbate obtained his Medical Degree from the University Campus Biomedico, Rome, Italy, and completed his training in Cardiology at the Catholic University, also in Rome, Italy. In 2004, he relocated to Richmond to complete further training at the Virginia Commonwealth University, and in 2007 became a member of the Cardiology faculty. Dr. Abbate divides his time between the Coronary Intensive Care Unit, the outpatient cardiology services and the Clinical Research Services Unit.
A valid passport is required to leave the US. If a student does not already have a passport, they are advised to begin the application process as soon as they are accepted into the program. The processing time for new passport applicants can be as long as 8 weeks. For students who already have passports, they will need to verify that the passport’s validity dates extend 6 months past their return date. For more information about passports and the application/renewal process, please consult the State Department's website
Payment of fees
In order to complete the application, students are required to submit a $250 registration fee and deposit. This $250 registration fee and deposit is refundable in two cases: if the program is cancelled, or if a student is rejected by the faculty member based on their qualifications to participate in the program. Reasons for rejection could include, but are not limited to, GPA, lack of a pre-requisite, unacceptable or inappropriate statement of interest, etc. and are at the discretion of the faculty program director. However, if a student pays the fee and is not given final acceptance to the program based on failing to complete application requirements, as determined by the Education Abroad office or faculty director, the $250 is non-refundable.
Students will receive two separate charges to their student accounts for this program: one charge will reflect the balance of the program fee (minus the $250 deposit and application fee) and the other charge is for VCU tuition costs (based on the number and type of credits being taken by the student). These bills will be charged through VCU Student Accounting and should appear by May 2017.
Please note: While these charges may post to the student’s account simultaneously or separately, it is the student’s responsibility to make sure the account balance is paid before the billing due date.
Withdrawal procedures and financial commitment policy
All withdrawals must be made formally in writing and submitted to the Director of Education Abroad. Otherwise, the program fee will not be refunded. After committing to the program, students deciding to withdraw will be held accountable for a portion of or the entire program fee based on the following schedule:
- Formal withdrawal submitted later than 30 days before the first day of the program abroad: 100% of the program fee will be charged
- Formal withdrawal submitted within 30-60 days before the first day of the program abroad: 75% of the program fee will be charged
- Formal withdrawal submitted within 60-90 days before the first day of the program abroad: 50% of the program fee will be charged
In the event an unexpected emergency occurs within 30 days before the first day of the program abroad, students must provide a physician’s certification that his/her condition prohibits participation. In this case, refunds will be limited to only those funds VCU is able to recover or that have not already been spent on behalf of the student.
See above for refund policy on $250 registration fee and deposit.
Students should schedule an appointment with their physician or at a travel clinic (such as VCU Student Health) at least 4 to 8 weeks before the program to inquire about recommended and/or required vaccines/immunizations. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that all routine and travel immunizations are up-to-date.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on recommended and required immunizations for travelers. To view the health risks and requirements for the country to which you will be traveling, please visit the CDC's website
Health Alert: Zika Virus
The CDC has issued a travel alert for countries where the Zika virus is prevalent. Check the CDC’s travel notices
regularly as new countries are being added to this list. Check VCU Student Health
to stay updated as well.
VCU Student Health offers in-depth pre-travel consultation with a health care provider as well as most of the vaccines recommended for safe travel. Prescriptions for recommended medicines are also available. Please visit their website
for full details.
Every effort is made to provide updated and accurate information at the time of publication. The sponsors reserve the right to make necessary changes to the programs and costs. The university reserves the right to revise or alter all fees, regulations pertaining to student fees, and fee collection procedures at any time.