Studying pre-med abroad is an excellent way for undergraduate students to not only experience another country, but to also develop their personal and academic education in preparation for medical school or a future career in healthcare. Preparing yourself for a future medical career through pre-med study abroad helps you step out of your comfort zone and learn essential problem solving skills that will be paramount as a medical professional.
Why Study Pre-Med Abroad
The differences in medicine and healthcare throughout the world provide a multitude of opportunities for pre-med students to explore practices from a completely different point of view. A basic check-up in the United States typically only includes the patient, whereas other parts of the world (such as Mexico, India, or Tanzania) may include a family.
Adjusting to the specific needs of each patient is key in delivering quality care, and studying pre-med abroad provides you with cultural tools that a textbook cannot teach you. Study abroad programs often provide opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience through serving and learning in their international communities from healthcare professionals and local clinics.
Both study abroad institutions and universities offer pre-med study abroad options either for a summer, semester, or year abroad in a number of locations. Some of the best study abroad locations for pre-med students are listed below:
England is an excellent country for pre-med study abroad. Study abroad programs in London and Cambridge provide a challenging curriculum, and are currently some of the leading voices in medical research and biotechnology, providing invaluable experience to students wanting to focus on these two specialities.
Denmark places an emphasis on studying medicine through the lens of public health policy in programs in the city of Copenhagen specifically. This is an incredible chance to study the economics and practices of European healthcare systems, which differ greatly from those in the United States. As the United States continues to revamp its healthcare system, academic experience in Denmark will make you invaluable to medical schools and potential employers alike.
Chile offers students the option to gain practical knowledge of medicine and healthcare in a Spanish-speaking, immersive environment, with many programs based in Santiago. Aside from studying the historical, social, and cultural aspects of Chile’s health care, students are also given the unique opportunity to participate in clinical observation both in public and private clinics. This hands-on learning process will also afford you with a glimpse into Chilean culture and the chance to become a part of local communities through your work.
Courses & Programs
The pre-med track is extremely regimented and as such, students typically cannot take required prerequisite courses abroad, as medical schools will not accept these courses as valid credit transfers. For most study abroad programs, you will be required to have already completed your prerequisite courses and to have achieved a particular GPA.
While the pre-med academic track is very structured, it is easy for students to study abroad with the appropriate amount of planning. Most pre-med students study abroad throughout the summers or during their junior year, as senior year is crucial for medical school applications and interviews. Pre-med study abroad allows students to expand their worldview and discover new avenues for their academic goals, such as identifying their desired speciality and focus to strengthen their goals in medical school admissions essays.
Pre med courses abroad typically approach medicine from the point of view of the hosting country, which allows students to explore the role of health professionals in their day-to-day procedures. As the world becomes increasingly globalized, seeing how health and medicine are perceived under different conditions will make you a far more competitive medical school candidate.
Some pre med courses abroad are taught in conjunction with language immersion (such as medical Spanish) and clinical observations. Taking down patient information, charting patient history, and assisting with clinical cases are among some of the common duties you’ll partake in as a pre-med student in training. While you could study healthcare systems in your home university, experiencing them on-the-ground in a new historical, cultural, and political context is unparalleled.
Students normally enjoy smaller class sizes, and additionally have more hands-on time with top medical professionals in their study abroad destination. Courses in these programs typically follow American university course structure, with lectures, readings, and exams. Along with similarly structured classes, there is usually a shadowing portion within the course in local healthcare facilities.
Studying pre-med abroad is an excellent opportunity for students to expand both their knowledge and their skills while learning from another country’s medicine and health care system. This experience not only provides students with a culturally immersive experience, but also builds a competitive and diverse resume for the competitive pool of medical school applications.
Studying and living abroad demonstrates to future employers and medical school admissions boards that students are capable of learning from other cultures’ scientific approaches to medicine while adapting to challenging situations. Medical schools are ever more searching for students with a combination of hard skills (science knowledge) and soft skills (working with people) to strengthen and diversify their student pool. Pre-med study abroad gives you the advantage of applying both in one context.
Most importantly, studying abroad places you outside of your comfort zone both personally and academically, making it a life-changing experience that can solidify the path you decide to take in medicine.