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6 reasons pre-med students should do a Medical Internship abroad

Travel, make friends, and gain stand-out medical experience

By Hannah Atkins | 05th February, 2024
Updated on 06th February, 2024

Medical Internships are a chance to gain real-world experience beyond college. By interning in a hospital and shadowing doctors, you’ll also learn a lot about yourself.

Many pre-med students are considering an overseas Medical Internship – for several good reasons! Make sure you stay ahead of the competition by gaining international experience in a clinical setting.

Take this chance to test your skills, decide on a specialty, and ace your college exams.

Best Medical Internship opportunities for college students

As a Medical intern abroad, you can do:

Or, why not take an Alternative Spring Break that includes medical work experience?

Here are six reasons to do your Medical Internship abroad this year.

1) Learn from medical professionals

As a medical student doing an internship abroad, you’ll learn from experienced medical professionals. They'll mentor and supervise you throughout your time abroad.

It’s one thing to learn theory from a textbook. It’s a whole different ball game seeing healthcare in practice. You’ll witness first-hand how medical staff respond to challenges and find the best solutions for their patients.

The local doctors and nurses we work with are welcoming and knowledgeable. They'll encourage you to learn about healthcare practices in their country. Take this chance to soak up their wisdom.

For example, if you join a Midwifery Internship, you will:

  • Observe natural births and cesarean sections.
  • Rotate between different departments.
  • Gain hands-on work during community outreaches.

This hands-on experience is something rarely offered by internships in the United States. Heading overseas offers the gold standard of work experience.

The doctors were fantastic and were willing to teach us, as well as share their experiences. Being a final-year medical student, I was able to examine patients, write notes, and actively manage and write discharge summaries. I truly felt I was contributing to the system.

- Riti, Medicine intern in Tanzania

A Medical intern abroad doing a health check

2) Stand out from the crowd

Fewer than 10% of pre-med freshmen make it to medical school and even fewer go on to become doctors. It’s a competitive industry that only selects the best of the best.

Rather than allowing this to put you off, use it as motivation! Take every opportunity you can to stand out. Doing an internship is one thing but many students will do that. Take it to another level by doing your Medical Internship abroad.

Going overseas shows you’re willing to step outside your comfort zone; building resilience, demonstrating adaptability, and enhancing cross-cultural communication. It also gives you a global healthcare perspective that many college students lack. 

These qualities stand out on a resume, giving you an edge over the competition.

The breadth of cases we were exposed to was outstanding. The placement overall was an eye-opening experience. I came to Peru to get broad exposure to all aspects of medicine in a developing country for the benefit of my medical studies. That's exactly what Projects Abroad enabled me to do.

- Fred, Medicine intern in Peru

3) Broaden your horizons

Hospitals are becoming more diverse. It’s important that the next generation of healthcare professionals understands a wide range of conditions. This is best done by heading overseas and dealing with illnesses that may be uncommon in the US.

Working in a different country, you’ll not only observe different conditions but also different treatments. It’s a great opportunity to broaden your skill set.

Furthermore, you’ll experience first-hand how medical professionals adapt and deal with obstacles like having limited resources. This will boost your adaptability and resourcefulness.

By participating in a Medical Internship in a country like Sri Lanka, you’ll encounter conditions that are uncommon in the US. For instance, you’ll learn about dengue fever in our medical workshops. You could even treat patients with this condition – something you’re unlikely to experience at home.

It was incredible to learn about the differences between healthcare in Sri Lanka and at home. I hadn’t realized how much I had taken away from this nursing experience until I was back. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to learn in this limited-resource setting, it has been invaluable for my practice.

- Katherine, Nursing intern in Sri Lanka

College Medical intern abroad

4) Pick up vital skills

From shadowing doctors to assisting with practical tasks, you’ll emerge from your Medical Internship with a wealth of new skills. In the healthcare industry, skills are everything. Without them, you’ll struggle to progress in your career.

As a Medical intern abroad, you will develop crucial skills such as:

  • Measuring vital signs
  • Dressing wounds and patients
  • Measuring blood pressure
  • Taking blood samples

These are essential skills for anyone dreaming of becoming a doctor.

Don’t leave it to chance! Get out there and start building the skills you need.

As the week went on, my confidence grew. As the midwives and obstetricians learned more about me and my experience, I became more involved in the practical side of clinics.

- Lauren, Midwifery intern in Peru

5) Achieve Personal Development

Going abroad won’t just benefit your career. It’s also a chance to work on becoming the best version of yourself. This is your opportunity to learn about yourself, including your values and capabilities.

Discover your strengths and weaknesses and find out how you cope with difficult situations. Being abroad throws up new challenges and overcoming them can be a life-changing experience.

Even outside of your hospital work, you’ll become a more understanding, empathetic person. These are useful qualities for medical professionals but they’re also valuable life skills whichever path you take.

I gained a lot of independence from carrying out my internship on my own. My experience also made me realize the value I place on being able to communicate and empathize with patients.

- Louise, Medicine intern in Ghana

Medicine and Healthcare interns with staff in Africa

6) Become immersed in a new culture and language

Heading abroad is the only way to surround yourself with a new culture. This can help you hone your language skills as you experience a new way of life. Staying with a host family, trying local food, and visiting attractions are enriching experiences.

You’ll also get first-hand experience working with patients whose first language is not English. This skill is highly sought after, even in English-speaking hospitals.

If you’re looking to become fluent in Spanish, consider a Medical Internship in:

My host family was absolutely wonderful. They went over and above what was required of them and really made me feel completely at home. I owe them so much for making my experience in Nepal so incredible.

- Resham, Medicine intern in Nepal

Ready to do your internship abroad?

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