How to Find Medical School Electives Abroad » Beatnaija

How to Find Medical School Electives Abroad

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If you are interested in going to medical school, then finding medical electives abroad will help you gain an understanding on how to treat patients and expand your knowledge. However, if you decide to go to another country for an elective (or just want to travel), then it is important that you research medical schools that offer English as a primary language. This way, it will be easier for you to understand what is going on during a surgery or other treatment options. Write an essay about how traveling abroad can expand your future career as a doctor and why people should consider looking into these types of programs when applying for med school. You can also provide advice on choosing one over another.

Dreaming of sampling tropical medicine in the Amazon or exploring emergency medicine in Kenya? Or maybe you’re still considering your options? Medical school electives abroad offer an opportunity to acquire new perspectives and gain new skills. (Oh, and not to mention saying ahhh to tasting new foods and experiencing new adventures!)

How to Find Medical School Electives Abroad

With so many international medical electives available, this can feel both exciting and overwhelming for medical school students. You’ve chosen a career that’s all about helping people, and it can be hard to narrow down your choices—especially if you feel like you’re shouldering the weight of organizing your elective all by yourself.

Good news! If you’re not sure where to start or where to go, you’ve come to the right place.

What is an elective as a medical student?

An elective as a medical student is a learning experience, often a clinical rotation, that can be related to, or outside of, a specialty you wish to pursue as a healthcare professional. Electives are often categorized as a clerkship, which is a clinical setting rotation, or as a sub internship or internship, which involves a larger patient workload.

Some medical schools allow students to take electives in their third year, but more often, not until their fourth year. Electives can be anywhere between 1-24 weeks, but the average duration is 4-8 weeks. The good thing about most medical electives is that they often have fewer students and are graded as pass/fail.

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Medical students typically arrange elective placements themselves, but in most cases, the elective will need to meet certain requirements, fall within certain dates, and receive a stamp of approval from the medical school first.

Why find international medical electives?

How to Find Medical School Electives Abroad

Medical study abroad programs present all kinds of opportunities to grow professionally.

From gaining hands-on experience with different populations to acquiring cross-cultural communication skills, the benefits of medical electives abroad know no bounds. Plus, by being in a completely different environment, you’ll learn how to approach medical problems from new angles.

By helping others in a different country, you gain exposure to different health systems and learn about a variety of illnesses. An experience abroad in a developing country that relies less on technology will help you learn to make diagnoses based on history and physical data, and you’ll learn to think on your feet with limited resources.

It’s also a chance to make new friends and expand your professional network, and some of those connections may be happy to write a letter of recommendation to help you get accepted into a residency program or fellowship program that interests you. Who knows? You may collaborate with your newfound friendships to help solve other pressing health issues in the world.

The knowledge you gain abroad will come in handy when you return home, especially in regards to thinking more creatively and connecting seemingly unrelated symptoms to make diagnoses, develop treatments, or innovate solutions. The outcome will be a unique skill set, new perspectives, and more confidence.

How to find medical school electives abroad

How to Find Medical School Electives Abroad

It’s important to find the program that’s right for you and your goals.

Ready to get started and find the course for you? Here are the steps you can take to help you navigate the sea of choices of medical student electives abroad:

1. Decide how an elective abroad ties into your studies.

Would you like to delve into an area that gets you more experience in the specialty you wish to pursue or one that complements it? Maybe you’d like to dip your toes into something new and challenging.

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Will learning a specific language help you treat patients better? Are you looking for something that involves more research, observing, or hands-on experience?

It’s a good idea to ask yourself these questions and consult with your medical school advisor, a mentor, or a member of the faculty to help you decide.

2. Consult with your medical school about requirements.

Many medical schools have elective handbooks, which provide information about rules, procedures, guidelines, and dates.

Most likely, you won’t find many medical electives abroad listed here, but it can help you get a better idea of your boundaries and ignite ideas for a course you’d like to take if you’re stuck.

Keep in mind if you’re arranging your own elective abroad, you will most likely need the Associate Dean for Medical Student Affairs to approve it first.

3. Choose when to go and how long to go.

How to Find Medical School Electives Abroad

No matter where or when you choose to go, transformative learning experiences await!

As previously mentioned, every medical school will vary with elective requirements, so be sure to review that information first. Many medical students prefer to take an elective abroad late in their fourth year after residency interviews are over, but you may find a different timeframe better suits you.

You’ll find a range of durations available for medical school electives abroad, but keep in mind your budget for program fees and other costs. Also, be sure to look at the destination’s climate for when you want to go (it can be easy to forget that the northern and southern hemispheres have opposite seasons).

4. Find a program that fits your expectations.

After you’ve decided what kind of elective abroad to pursue and when to go, now it’s time to select a program based on your interests, needs, and requirements. You’ll find a plethora of medical student electives abroad online.

Be sure to take a look at their reviews or testimonials, and ask the coordinators about admissions support. Some programs, like International Medical Aid, arrange accommodation, provide support and mentorship, and offer various placement options abroad.

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5. Ask plenty of questions.

Once you’ve chosen a program, don’t be afraid to ask questions to get the pulse on your chosen destination.

This could involve reaching out to peers in online medical school groups or your own medical school, contacting program or medical school advisors or alumni, or chatting with faculty members who have spent time abroad.

They may offer you tips, tricks, and other advice to help you get a better idea of what to expect and help you better prepare for your experience.

6. Start planning—stat.

How to Find Medical School Electives Abroad

Plan your medical electives abroad with intention, and it’ll pay off academically and professionally!

It’s best to get the ball rolling about six months before departing to take care of the application and approval process for your medical school and elective abroad program, apply for a passport/visa, and meet any additional vaccination or safety requirements for your chosen country.

By the way, be sure to take some time to learn more about your destination’s culture, customs, and language to better prepare you for your time abroad.

If you need additional funding for an elective abroad for your flights, accommodation, additional gear and supplies, administrative and program fees, etc, resources are available!

Some students have had success with earning sponsorships to cover their medical electives abroad since some international countries need the extra set of hands.

As a medical student, electives abroad will enhance your education!

Whether you’d like to diagnose traumas in Uganda or help deliver babies in Colombia, you’ll find a plethora of destinations and specialties available in the realm of international medical electives.

Now you have a road map that will help chart your path to the medical school study abroad program for you, from considering your interests to exploring your options online.

Your stint in another country will teach you how to overcome barriers, positively impact a community, experience a new culture, and see the world through different lenses.

In the process, it will not only strengthen your medical skills as you change lives, but it will change your life too!

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