Preparing to Volunteer Abroad Before Med School

January 2, 2015

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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If you are a pre-med student, you may have considered doing some type of volunteer work abroad. Whether you volunteer during your summer break or take a gap year between college and med school, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer abroad.

There are several volunteer programs, which involve travel to third world countries. Some of the people in poverty stricken countries do not have access to medical care and need the services volunteers provide. Opportunities are available to work in hospitals, clinics and mobile medical care centers.

If you do not have any clinical volunteer experience, volunteering abroad can give a boost to your medical school application. You may also get a chance to provide direct patient care, such as monitoring vital signs or proving health education.

Volunteering abroad can be a very rewarding experience. You may have the opportunity to help people who need it the must. It can open your eyes to issues around the world and strengthen your desire to become a physician.  In some instances, volunteering in a third world country can be a life changing experience, which you will never forget.  

Students will also have the chance to experience a different culture and possibly learn a new language. The experience helps you learn about global health conditions and witness medical care in a different setting.

Inside the operating room during a medical procedure. Considerations before Volunteering Abroad

Although volunteering abroad before med school can be a rewarding experience, it is not right for everyone. It takes a commitment and strong desire to experience a third world country. Before you decide to volunteer abroad, make sure you consider a few important factors.

Do it for the right reasons. Although volunteering abroad can look good on a medical school application, it should not be the only reason to volunteer. Volunteering abroad is not the only type of volunteer experience medical schools value. If you are participating in a volunteer program just because it looks good on paper, you are doing a disservice to the people who need your help. Volunteer because you want to experience something different, learn about another culture or help people who are in need.

Compare programs. There are several programs for people who are interested in volunteering abroad. Before you sign up with a program, do a little research. Not all programs are the same. Ask how long the program has been around and try to speak with someone who has participated. If something about the program does not feel right, trust your instincts.

Consider costs. Different programs may have varied costs associated with them. Some programs can be quite expensive. You may have to pay for your travel to and from the country, as well as housing when you arrive. Determine what costs will be involved, and decide what you can afford.

Don’t provide care beyond your training. It is essential you do not perform tasks that are beyond your training. As a volunteer, you should be clear on what you can and cannot do.