The benefits of international work experience for Australian students: Part 1

June 8, 2016

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

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Sure, there’s no denying the excitement that comes from the thought of travelling abroad. Even the most experienced traveller cannot help but feel excited at the thought of travelling to yet another new destination. But is that reason enough to book a medical placement to Tanzania or Thailand? If this is something that has been playing on your mind as you debate whether or not it is worth it, take a look at some of the many ways that an international medical placement can benefit you personally as well as professionally.

You Get A True Perspective On Global Healthcare

It’s natural to imagine that healthcare all over the world would be of almost the same standard that you see back home. Unfortunately, that is not so. In many countries in the developing world, healthcare systems are sorely inadequate. A medical placement in one of these underserved countries will give you a much more well-rounded view of global healthcare.

As you work in these resource-poor settings, you will be able to gain insight into how healthcare is carried out despite desperate shortages of staff and medical equipment. You will also get to see patients suffering from illness such as malaria, cholera and polio, which you would never see back home. You will learn what works and doesn’t work in various situations.

In the ever-changing field of healthcare, this knowledge can be invaluable to your future career as it demonstrates your global mindset. This can be particularly useful if you ever consider working in international settings as part of one of the many global health organizations.

It Helps You Make Better Career Choices

One of the biggest hurdles most medical students face is when it is time to choose their specialty. Many students agonise about whether or not they are making the right choice. What if they spend all those years studying in a particular specialty only to find that it is not what they imagined and they cannot handle it?

When you participate in a medical placement abroad, you get an opportunity to see what it is like to work in a variety of healthcare specialties. This allows you to determine whether to gain perspective not just on the specialty you are considering but even on those you may not have even given a thought to earlier. It’s a great way to explore different career paths and identify your preferences before you even begin med school and you still get some travel experience out of it!

It Boosts Your Med School Application

Knowing that you have done a medical placement can give your med school application a tremendous boost in more ways than one. It tells the interviewers that you have taken the time and trouble to explore this career path and the fact that you are still interested in pursuing a career in medicine after seeing the many challenges involved speaks volumes about your commitment to this career path.

It Helps You Expand Your Comfort Zone

Except for die-hard adventurers, most people tend to make travel plans to places that are within their comfort zone in terms of the spoken language, the kind of food they will get, available amenities and other such factors. Medical placements help you step outside your comfort zone and overcome culture and language barriers. These are valuable skills that will encourage you and help you gain more confidence when it is time to take on even bigger challenges such as nailing that med school interview or future job interviews.



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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives, and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.