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Programs : Brochure

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  • Locations: Fondi, Italy
  • Program Terms: Summer
  • Budget Sheets: Summer
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Fact Sheet:
Area of Study: Honors College Minimum GPA Required: 3.5
Class Status: Freshman, Junior, Senior, Sophomore Housing Options: Apartment
Recommended Program: Yes
Program Description:
Discover Medicine in Italy
2016 brochure

Fondi, Italy
6 credits in HONR 398
6 June 2018 – 30 June 2018
$1,600 + airfare + applicable VCU tuition

Program Director
Dr. Antonio Abbate

Registration deadline: 6 April 2018
The Global Education Office and the VCU Department of Internal Medicine/Cardiology, School of Medicine, are pleased to offer the program “Discover Medicine in Italy” for students who would like to experience the Bench-to-Bedside process in Medicine, while being immersed into an entirely different geographical, social, and cultural reality in Italy. Students will have the opportunity to take two courses: Introduction to Medical Semiotics (3 credits) and Introduction to Translational Research (3 credits). This is an exceptional opportunity to gain a European perspective of healthcare through coursework and shadowing physicians. Also, opportunities to see, taste, and experience Italy abound!

The proposed study abroad program aims at achieving 2 separate goals with one joint initiative: 1) To introduce the students to the key concepts of “Medicine and Research”, 2) Expose the students to concept of “Diversity” being this a geographical, cultural, linguistic or health-care related. The opportunity  to complete this program derives from the existing collaboration between VCU and the Sapienza University of Rome, Italy, and the previous experience of the Faculty Members in navigating the Education and Medical fields in Italy. The courses offered have been uniquely designed to facilitate the integration of the two goals. Salvatore Carbone and Dr. Antonio Abbate from the School of Medicine, VCU, will be responsible for the courses. The academic rigor in the courses offered is expected to be the same for on-campus courses. The courses are offered to 5 students only and therefore the classes are expected to be highly interactive. Both passive and active learning techniques will be adopted. The selection of students with a solid track record will facilitate the achievement of the goals in the allocated time. 
Course and credit options
  • HONR 398 Introduction to Medical Semiotics, 3 undergraduate credits
  • HONR 398 Introduction to Translational Research, 3 undergraduate credits

The Education Abroad office will enroll students in the course upon receipt of the registration.
Course descriptions
2016 brochure
Introduction to Medical Semiotics
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.

The course will consist of:
-          Classroom seminars
-          Assigned reading
-          Hands-on experience in the clinical setting.
Introduction to Translational Research
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.
The course will consist in:
-          Classroom seminars
-          Assigned reading
-          Laboratory sessions
-          Independent study

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. 2016 brochure

Students who are accepted into the program will receive a $2,000 scholarship from the Honors College towards their program fee.
Accommodations and Meals
Students will be housed in one apartment in rooms of 1-3 students. The apartments will be walking distance from the Educational Center – Cooperativa Ricerca Educativa where the classes will be held. Students will take care of their own meals.
Program directors
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.
Travel health
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.

Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

This program is currently not accepting applications.