Working in an International Context: Challenges and Opportunities


WorkLife Office Presents: Working in an International Context: Challenges and Opportunities

A consequence of globalization in education is the international movement among students, residents, staff, and faculty (Stevens & Goulbourne, 2012; Hodges et al, 2009). Working and studying abroad often leads to difficulties in collaboration and communication. An USA surgeon explained: “My residents are afraid of my colleague who emigrated from Eastern Europe, the direct communication style scares them. My colleague feels bad about it too.” Support for learners or faculty abroad is often lacking. Working abroad requires a deep understanding of the national culture and the related traditions, (hidden) norms and values. Even when this is present, mistakes are often unavoidable, affecting progress in projects, a person’s credibility, or lead to frustration. The goal of this workshop is (a) to provide an opportunity to discuss challenges, opportunities and dilemmas related to international communication, (b) reflect on learning from mistakes by analyzing cultural communication failures with Hofstede’s national culture model, (c) share five rules which can be applied in every international communication context, and (d) provide a network opportunity for those working abroad.

Administrators, faculty, staff, residents, and students who have worked, are working, or planning to work in an international context are welcome to attend.

Register Here

Structure of the Workshop:

The introduction (20’) includes an interactive exercise in which participants share their challenges of working in an international context. A theoretical overview discusses Hofstede’s model and other perspectives (Stevens & Goulbourne, 2012; Hodges et al, 2009). In small groups (20’) participants discuss a personal dilemmas or a vignette about a difficult collaboration scenario. During a large group discussion (15’) the lessons learned will be reviewed. The session will be closed with take home messages (5’).

Learning Objectives:

  1. Know the six dimensions of Hofstede’s national culture model: Power Distance, Individualism, Uncertainty Avoidance, Masculinity, Long Term Orientation, and Indulgence
  2. Learn from, provide suggestions to, and receive input on other participant’s experiences (successes, failures and dilemma’s) with international collaboration
  3. Apply Hofstede’s national culture model and analyze participant’s failures and dilemmas encountered in international collaboration
  4. Learn five generalizable ‘rules’ for international collaboration which apply to each national culture


About the Presenters:

J.M.Monica van de Ridder, PhD, MSc, is Assistant Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine College of Human Medicine Michigan State University and Spectrum Health. She has 20+ years experience in Medical Education. Her professional and research interest is in giving, receiving and seeking feedback in clinical settings. She is heavily involved in faculty development of clinical teachers. She came from The Netherlands to Michigan in December 2015.

Contact information:; @MvdRidder

Marjo Wijnen-Meijer, PhD studied educational sciences in Utrecht (Netherlands). She has been working in medical education since 2005, until 2018 in the Netherlands (Utrecht and Leiden). She has experience in management, educational research, faculty development and the development of curricular concepts. Since 2018, she joined the Medical Education Center of the Technical University in Munich, Germany. She is team leader of the curriculum development team, supervises research projects, leads the project "Introduction of Entrusted Professional Activities" and is involved in a project to motivate students for family medicine, especially in the rural areas of Bavaria.

Elizabeth Krajic Kachur, PhD is a medical educator who works as a consultant with multiple institutions locally, nationally and globally. With an academic background in social science and 30+ years of experience in the field of health professions education she focuses on Curriculum and Faculty Development, Learner Assessment and Program Evaluation. Many of her conference presentations and publications focused on bridging cultural differences. As an immigrant to the US, and having traveled widely, the acculturation process is also of personal interest.

TJ Jirasevijinda, MD, is Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College. He is a medical educator with experience in designing and implementing curricula across the educational spectrum, from medical students to residents to practicing physicians. He has disseminated scholarly work on various medical education topics, including cross-cultural communication, at regional, national, and international conferences, and has collaborated with academic institutions across the globe.

Contact information:; @teejaymd99