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The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of international health electives on physicians-in-training. A retrospective study was conducted using an anonymous, self-administered mailed survey to internal medicine residents who trained at Yale from 1982 to 1996 based on their experience with our International Health Program (IHP). The response rate was 61%, with 96 completed surveys in the participant group and 96 completed surveys in the nonparticipant group. Participants were more likely than nonparticipants to care for patients on public assistance (77 versus 49; P < 0.001) and immigrant patients (41 versus 23; P = 0.006). Among residents who changed their career plans, participants (22) were more likely than nonparticipants (14) to switch from subspecialty medicine to general medicine (P = 0.02). Participants were significantly more likely to have a positive view of health care delivery in developing countries. Compared with nonparticipants (64), IHP participants (74) believed that the physical examination is under-used by physicians from the United States as a diagnostic skill (P = 0.03). International health experiences appeared to have an important impact on the decisions and attitudes of residents.