Volunteering Abroad and the Benefits Of Experiential Learning

December 6, 2013

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Experiential learning refers to the process of learning by doing or by actual experience as opposed to learning in a classroom. This kind of learning helps you build knowledge and skills in the real world without the use of blackboards, flashcards and notebooks. The beauty of experiential learning is that it can happen anytime and anywhere that you get a chance to observe, engage and experiment.

In the context of career goals in the medical field, experiential learning typically takes place in any type of medical establishment. Work-based experiential learning opportunities could include medical internships, undergraduate or graduate research, physician shadowing, fellowships and volunteerism.

Students observing surgery in the orthopaedics department at Maharaj Hospital Benefits of Experiential learning

One of the biggest benefits of experiential learning is that it allows the learner to learn the practical aspects of any knowledge that they obtain as opposed to simply learning the theory. Take, for example, learning to ride a bike. Reading about it or having somebody else explain how to ride a bike is not half as effective as actually getting onto a bike and attempting to ride it. Likewise, there are several real-world situations that can only be grasped through hands-on experience. 

For pre-medical students, experiential learning in the medical arena offers several benefits. When trying to determine whether this is actually the right career choice, reading all about becoming a doctor only gives you somebody else’s point of view. It does not necessarily mean that you will feel the same way. The only way to know whether or not you are making the right choice and whether you have the skills and the aptitude required to become a doctor is with experiential learning. Even within the medical field, this type of hands-on learning can influence other decisions you make such as the specialty that you would like to pursue.

How Volunteering Abroad Helps 

Volunteering abroad is a meaningful experience and offers you the perfect opportunity for experiential learning. When you volunteer abroad with a healthcare related project, you gain several benefits:

Gap Medics offers opportunities for volunteering abroad in Tanzania, Thailand and Czechoslovakia. At these three countries, they have affiliated with local hospitals where you will spend time shadowing medical professionals and getting an uncensored look into what it is really like to be a doctor. All travel and accommodation arrangements are taken care of so you need not worry about anything except for the actual experiential learning experience. If you are looking for medical volunteering opportunities for your 2014 spring break, take a look at what Gap Medics offers.