BehindBlueEyes

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2+ Year Member
Dec 13, 2015
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I'm an M1 and I'd really like to do something abroad this summer, probably the entire summer if I can. I know a couple of organizations I've worked with before in Peru and Guatemala that have different medical volunteering opportunities as well as legitimate Medical Spanish Terminology classes (I can already speak fluent Spanish but medical terminology is like a different language even in English so I think it'd be cool).

A classmate of mine advised against this because they said I wouldn't be able to talk about it during residency interviews/use it on a resume due to it being "unethical", I think referring to the fact that I might do things abroad that I wouldn't exactly be licensed to do in the US. I've never heard that before.

Thoughts?
 

Crayola227

The Oncoming Storm
5+ Year Member
Oct 22, 2013
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I think it's fine

it depends on the organization, what you end up doing while there, and the individuals looking at your app/interviewing you

yes, people in 3rd world countries shouldn't be your guinea pigs

go with a reputable organization, preferably one that has strong ties to/mostly ran by people in the community you're helping, don't do anything you're not qualified to do/isn't well supervised

if you emphasize that one reason you are doing this is language immersion and to learn medical Spanish, and other skills that will translate to helping such populations here in the US, I think it's 100% justifiable, just be sure to point that out (ERAS lets you write a blurb about your activities)

there are tons of docs involved in ethical global health efforts and lots of such programs at US med school and residency programs

as an undergrad I went abroad and it didn't seem to hurt me in the slightest and it was discussed favorably in my interviews
in med school during residency interviews I talked about my global health aspirations and language skills, and that I was going abroad in med school and wanted to again in the future, and how those skills would translate to the US, it was fine

both times I went abroad were with reputable organizations that worked closely with local docs and leaders to ensure that the programs were beneficial to those communities

one included homestays which helped to support the families and community you stay with financially
one provided important education to nearby villages about everything from how to sterilize drinking water to make it safe, to diabetes to nutrition to breastfeeding, etc
one provided vaccines, STD checks/education, and the like

it's really hard to argue that what we did didn't help people in some lasting ways as much as it educated us
that's the sort of thing I did and focused on discussing, and I think is very respectable
 

LyMed

2+ Year Member
May 4, 2017
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Medical Student
I would go. It be a great experience, and I've never heard of any PD saying a negative thing about volunteering abroad.
 
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FantasticDoctorFox

2+ Year Member
Jan 30, 2015
31
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Medical Student
I don't see an issue with what you're describing. Many medical schools (including mine) have global health tracks for students that REQUIRE work in hospitals or completion of medical projects abroad.

Perhaps what your friend is thinking of is more when pre-med students volunteer with certain organizations that allow them to act as healthcare providers and perform procedures in ways that they would NOT be allowed to in the US. This is often looked down upon for the reasons described above--people who live in developing nations deserve professionally trained providers as much as people living in the USA do and it is sanctimonious and unethical for someone with no training (i.e. many of the premeds who go on such trips) shouldn't be taking on roles abroad that they would not be allowed to take on here.

However, as others have said, as long as you are going with a reputable organization and acting as a medical student while there (i.e. not doing things there you would not be allowed to do while at your US medical school/clinical sites) I don't see what the issue would be.
 

Cura_te_ipsum

Account on Hold
Account on Hold
Sep 4, 2017
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Medical Student
I'm an M1 and I'd really like to do something abroad this summer, probably the entire summer if I can. I know a couple of organizations I've worked with before in Peru and Guatemala that have different medical volunteering opportunities as well as legitimate Medical Spanish Terminology classes (I can already speak fluent Spanish but medical terminology is like a different language even in English so I think it'd be cool).

A classmate of mine advised against this because they said I wouldn't be able to talk about it during residency interviews/use it on a resume due to it being "unethical", I think referring to the fact that I might do things abroad that I wouldn't exactly be licensed to do in the US. I've never heard that before.

Thoughts?
dont be surprised if we lowly MD students are offered opportunities to assist Hurricane Irma victims in South and Central Florida in the next few weeks and months after the waters recede.

It looks bleak as hell. Miami and surrounding areas are predicted to be catastrophic, worse case scenario verbiage

Is America falling...the end is near?
 

croak2

Attending Physician
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2+ Year Member
Apr 16, 2017
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Volunteering is excellent, go with organizations such as: The Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), WHO–This may be out of many comfort zones, but it is a terrific thing to be a part of. I agree with the previous post that Florida may request your help - It's a good thing. Best of luck in weathering the storm if you are in Florida or suffered through the Houston disaster. Stay safe!
 
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