Premed program in Africa

March 26, 2021

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

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Participating in a premed program in Africa can help you take your resume to another level. Whether you are in high school or already a premed student, you can find unique experiences on the African continent that you will never have in your home country.

Our global health experience program in Tanzania is designed for students who want to stand out from other applicants to medical schools. You will see a range of medical cases that, while common in Tanzania, may be vastly different from the medical knowledge you will gain in the U.S. or Europe.

In this article, we will tell you how a premed program in Africa can help you on your journey to becoming a doctor, midwife, nurse, or physician assistant.

Premed experience to build your resume

One of the benefits of finding premed experience in Africa is that it’s a way to set yourself apart from other students applying to the same programs. 

According to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges, there are over 50,000 medical school applicants in the United States each year. Only 40% are accepted, which means the rest of the 60% have to wait and reapply or choose another path. But if you have a great application, then you won’t have to worry about reapplying.

While many get caught up with their GPA and MCAT scores, that is not all there is to a strong application. In fact the AAMC found that in 2016,  12% of applicants with the highest possible GPAs and MCAT scores were not accepted to medical school. Admission officers look at the whole package including letters of recommendation, personal statement, and experience.

As an aspiring physician, it’s necessary for you to shadow a doctor and get clinical experience. Many schools strongly recommend or even require that you spend time job shadowing before you apply to their program. 

A premed program in Africa not only helps you fulfill your prerequisites, but it offers unique additions to your application and can help you write an incredible personal statement. 

While it’s important that you shadow a doctor in your local healthcare system, nearly every student applying to a medical program will have the same experiences through shadowing at home. The African continent is a vastly different educational experience.

Our global health experience program in Tanzania gives you the opportunity to shadow healthcare professionals at a local health center and learn from traditional healers of two different tribes. You will get an in-depth look into all aspects of the Tanzanian healthcare system, guided by medical doctors who will be your mentors throughout the entire program. 

The types of cases that you see in Tanzania will undoubtedly differ from what you would see at your local hospital or clinic. The Center for Disease Control has found that the top three causes of death in Tanzania are neonatal disorders, respiratory infections, and HIV/AIDS – all of which are cases that can be handled by the health center. 

In contrast, the top three causes of death in the United States are heart disease, cancer, and accidents. Culture and environment are important factors to consider in global health, which is why Tanzania is a wonderful opportunity for you as a pre-med or pre health student. 

Building your medical knowledge with a wide range of cases and patients from different backgrounds is an incredible start to your premed journey. A premed program in Africa may be exactly what you need to make your portfolio stand out. 

A global health perspective

Global health experience is not only an impressive addition to your application, but it’s also a way for you to become a better healthcare provider.

Tanzania has over 120 tribes, each with their own cultures and lifestyles. You’ll find the traditional healers of the Hehe and Maasai tribes will have distinct approaches to treatment. These tribes, although both in rural locations, sustain themselves through different means and have unique cultural heritages. All of these factors impact healthcare in the community. 

In addition to the in-depth look into tribal communities and their healers, you will spend a week on the front lines with healthcare professionals at a primary care center. 

Cases that cannot be handled by the healthcare facility and are not emergencies, are referred to the larger general hospitals in the area. But this smaller health center remains an important part of healthcare delivery in the community. 

The healthcare facility provides regular maternity check-ups, dispenses HIV/AIDS medication, and malaria testing and treatment. But the doctors and nurses who work there also handle cardiac cases, births, and are building their own operating theater. 

Observing health workers here will be a stark contrast to what you experience during your local shadowing experience. Hospitals and clinics are often working with limited resources and are sometimes understaffed. The experience you have will be challenging. 

You will also have a global health seminar with pediatrician and global health expert Dr. Isaac Mlay. He has helped curate the experience so that you get the most out of your two weeks. He will take you into the community to understand how environmental and cultural factors affect the cases you’re seeing with the tribal healers and at the health facility.

Our program helps ensure that you’re not just making interesting observations, but you actually understand the context of what you’re seeing. 

Choosing an ethical medical program abroad

If you decide to find a premed program in Africa, you’ll want to make sure you choose a safe and ethical program. 

Too many medical programs abroad have put students and patients in unsafe situations. This is why we keep our program strictly observational. We do not put untrained students in situations where they can cause harm to themselves and their careers, or to any patients. 

Your mentors will be with you every step of the way as you explore different aspects of healthcare in Tanzania. You will not have any physical contact with patients. We are able to put students safely on the front lines of international hospitals and clinics because of our strict policies. We can keep you safe. 

We hope you join us in Tanzania to help build your experience portfolio! You can learn more about our global health experience program here