Many students take advantage of the opportunities to become involved in medical missions trips or other international service opportunities. Most of these international service opportunities are trips that are taken by medical professionals to areas of the world where access to medical care is severely limited. These trips are a great way to combine travel and medical experience as well as gain exposure to a totally different culture. Students with CNA or EMT training can often use their skills on these trips and even those with no certification can act in supportive roles. While these trips are a great experience, it is not recommended that this be your only type of clinical experience. Because you will primarily be practicing medicine in the US, it is important that you gain exposure to the US medical system as well. Medical missions trips are usually considered a wonderful way to supplement your clinical experience. In addition, there are some important considerations in this type of experience including potential harm to the patient or host country, potential harm to yourself, legal issues with local authorities, and being asked to perform tasks for which you are not trained. The Association of American Medical Colleges has issued guidelines for these types of experiences that will be helpful for you as you consider this type of opportunity.
International Healthcare Opportunities
Somos Hermanos is a Spanish Immersion Program that includes a mix of language instruction, community based voluntrering, cultural activities and lectures. Because of the length of the programs, many students use this as a gap year experience.
There are a large number of different charities and religious organizations that conduct international trips with a focus on providing medical relief in developing nations. These can provide life-changing experiences for students. It is important that you research the history and credibility of any of these organizations before you agree to join them.
Gap Medics is a company that offers year-round hospital placements in Europe, Asia and the Caribbean. They have programs for a wide range of career paths, including medicine, dentistry, midwifery, nursing, physician assistant and community health.