Let’s say there are two medical school applicants who are identical on paper in all ways except that one student participated in a study abroad program. If you were on the admissions committee side of things, who would you want to learn more about? Wouldn’t you want to know more about that one student’s experience abroad and how it may have influenced them in any way? This is not to say that passing up an opportunity to study abroad is the end all be all or that students should choose to participate in a study abroad program just because they think it will help them get into medical school.
Studying as a pre-med abroad just bodes well among medical school admissions officers who are looking for well-rounded applicants who have a diverse, challenging, and enriching background of undergraduate experiences. In all, study abroad programs foster independence and expand personal horizons in ways that few other opportunities can offer. Study abroad can offer pre-med students a unique chance to experience diverse health care systems, explore different cultural attitudes towards health care, and see firsthand how health care professionals operate in other settings.
Students preparing for careers in the medical and health professions can gain a wealth of information from living and studying internationally. Many pre-med students overlook the possibility of studying abroad as an undergrad because they think that their jam packed schedule is a reason keeping them from going through with it. Studying abroad can be very rewarding both academically and personally. An overseas experience can complement and enhance both your general program course of study and your pre-med interest. Besides enhancing your qualifications for medical school, studying abroad promotes an increased understanding of the world and your place in it, as well as enhancing your knowledge of yourself and fostering a sense of independence. Studying abroad can help make your application stand out from the others. Many students feel that they cannot sacrifice the time away from their premedical studies. But with early planning, it is definitely something within any student’s reach.
Two Myths About Study Abroad
- There’s no room in a premeds schedule
Between the general course requirements, major requirements, and pre-med requirements, students feel that it is almost impossible to squeeze anything else in. However, it is most likely that some course will cross over between the different requirements. You might be able to take a course abroad that may count towards your general course requirement or even your major or minor course requirements. And it is possible to take lab sciences abroad. Ask someone in the study abroad office about what courses you may take that you can gain credit to fulfill one of your requirements.
- Study abroad is too expensive
At several colleges and universities, when students study abroad, all of their current financial aid can be used for their semester abroad. Such aid includes grants, scholarships, federal assistance, state aid, and work-study stipends. In addition, many programs offer additional aid and there are a number of travel grants and scholarships available for students who want to take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad.