April 14, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
All About Pre Medical Tourism: A New Opportunity for Pre Med Students
Also called medical voluntourism, pre medical tourism provides an opportunity for aspiring doctors to travel abroad for a clinical experience prior to applying to medical school. Because medical schools prefer to admit candidates who have some type of hands-on clinical experiences, participating in pre medical tourism affords pre med students the chance to quench their wanderlust while being immersed in the culture and health care environments of another country. There are many benefits to engaging in a pre medical tourism opportunity. Because it is actually rare for pre medical students to travel abroad for a clinical experience (only 4% of medical school applicants have done this!), this is a tremendous opportunity to set yourself apart of the medical school admissions competition. Here are some things to consider as you craft a plan to travel abroad and participate in a pre medical tourism experience.
Shadowing Doctors Abroad
As a pre medical tourist, you should know that your ability to provide hands-on medical care is very limited. Because you are not formally trained, you will engage in physician shadowing to learn more about medical practices abroad. Take good notes, reflect on what you see and hear, and ask questions when it is appropriate and when the doctor’s schedule allows. Your role as a pre medical tourist is to take an observation stance. Pay attention to how your shadowing doctor interacts with patients, how s/he makes diagnoses, and how treatment is administered. If you are given the opportunity to obtain more formal training during your pre medical tourism experience, take it! You may learn something that you cannot learn at home. Be very careful to avoid situations where you are asked to perform any medical treatments or procedures. While there are often dire situations in developing countries, you are not a licensed medical practitioner, and you are not fully trained to handle such situations. Your shadowing doctor is not supposed to throw you into the fire, but he should warm you up to the medical profession.
Making It Happen
Research organizations that will allow you to participate in a pre medical tourism experience. Your university may have programs available for pre medical students who want to travel abroad, but more often, seeking out an organization which is solely dedicate to the pre medical tourism experience is the best one to choose. You can choose an experience that will meet your budget; shorter tours are logically cheaper than longer tours, though the longer you are away as a pre medical tourist, the more likely you are to learn more about the country in which you are touring. If you can learn the language of the country to which you want to travel, that would be a significant advantage to a successful pre medical tourism experience.
Pre medical tourism, also known as medical voluntourism, is an evolving and changing field which will help set your medical school applications apart from the candidate pool. Pack your bags today! — Post by Madelaine Kingsbury.