Madeline Kirby - 2014 Program Participant

Interns hiking in the Canary Islands during an internship in Spain

Madeline and some of the other interns on a hike of the central part of the Island.

Why did you choose the Canary Islands for your internship abroad?

I studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain in 2013 and had been trying to figure out a way to return to Spain ever since. Additionally, I have been studying Spanish for seven years so I knew I wanted to be able to use my Spanish during my internship. The Canary Islands offered me a chance to do that! Plus, you can’t beat the Canary Islands during the summer, beaches, mountains, and perfect weather. 

Las Palmas Beach on the North side of Gran Canaria Island in Spain

One of the main beaches, Las Palmas, on the North side of Gran Canaria. Photo credit to Madeline Kirby

Why did you choose Atlantis Project over other intern abroad organizations?

It is difficult to find internship programs that are appropriate for a pre-med student. The Atlantis Project is the only program I found that allowed me to shadow full-time in a hospital, and learn Spanish at the same time. 

What was a normal day like as a hospital intern on Gran Canaria Island?

We would get to the hospital around 8 or 8:30 a.m, or earlier if we were on a surgery rotation (surgeries start bright and early!). We then shadowed a surgeon or anesthesiologist and typically saw three to five surgeries per day. I saw a gastric bypass, multiple neurosurgeries, hernia repairs, lung resections, breast tumor removals and countless other amazing surgeries. We would then have lunch in the café with the other interns and typically head to the beach for the rest of the afternoon!

What was the most memorable experience you had while interning abroad in Spain?

I will always remember a conversation I had with one of the anesthesiologists. He was asking about the differences between U.S. and European healthcare, specifically the path to medical school. Since I was in the midst of applying, I was telling him the stresses and difficulties I was having. He told me his entire life story and to not worry about the challenges I was having, that I would eventually end up where I was meant to be. He said to find what makes me happy, and then do everything that I could to make that happen. It was a really meaningful conversation that I will never forget! 

Exploring Gran Canaria Island during an internship in Spain

Madeline exploring other parts of the Island with her intern colleagues.

What advice would you give to other interns interested in interning in Canary Islands?

Be flexible! Spain is a very relaxed country, especially during the summer, and you’ll quickly learn that they do things very differently than here in the U.S. If you learn to go with the flow, you’ll have so much more fun! Also, step out of your comfort zone! One of the best experiences I had on the island was a full-day hike, which I would normally never agree to back in the US!

If you could change one thing about your internship, what would it be?

I wish my program was longer! I participated in a two week option, but there was five week options that I wish I would have done! I didn’t want to leave when it was over, and I’d go back right now if I could!