Apr 8, 2010
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Pre-Medical
Hi,

This is my first post ever on this website so not really sure how things typically work, but my question is if anyone knows of any good volunteer abroad programs that gives undergrads hands-on-experience of medicine. I've heard stories of pre-meds going to Tanzania and Mexico and actually being able to diagnose, prescribe, and, even, cut. Maybe I'm just really gullible but if anyone knows of any programs that allowed you to experience any of that hands-on stuff please let me know!! I know it depends on the doctors and hospitals you end up with but any information would be gladly appreciated! I need the inside scoop because obviously the websites for these programs won't actually tell you these things.

Thanks!!:)

p.s. I'm 19, just in case there's an age limit for a program.
 

apumic

Oracle of the Sheet
10+ Year Member
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Jan 1, 2007
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Hi,

This is my first post ever on this website so not really sure how things typically work, but my question is if anyone knows of any good volunteer abroad programs that gives undergrads hands-on-experience of medicine. I've heard stories of pre-meds going to Tanzania and Mexico and actually being able to diagnose, prescribe, and, even, cut. Maybe I'm just really gullible but if anyone knows of any programs that allowed you to experience any of that hands-on stuff please let me know!! I know it depends on the doctors and hospitals you end up with but any information would be gladly appreciated! I need the inside scoop because obviously the websites for these programs won't actually tell you these things.

Thanks!!:)

p.s. I'm 19, just in case there's an age limit for a program.

Going outside your scope of practice (i.e., diagnosing, prescribing meds, or performing a surgical operation w/o proper licensure) is a BIG no-no. You don't want to do that. As for programs... check with a local nonprofit or church. They should be able to refer you to a reputable organization. What you don't want is to go with a voluntourism type of organization and make little/no difference in the country itself. Be aware also that most reputable NGOs are going to want you to have something to offer (i.e., at minimum, EMT-B, CNA, LVN/LPN, etc.). If you're uncertified, you're pretty much just a liability as the services (e.g., documentation, filing, distribution of flyers, etc.) you could offer could be performed much more effectively by a native of the host country (and at a MUCH lower cost). Any organization willing to take your money with ZERO skills on your part is just making money off of you and just an FYI but med schools could care less if you've volunteered in another country (that is, volunteering "there" is no better than volunteering "here").
 

plauto

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Sep 16, 2007
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Attending Physician
Hi,

This is my first post ever on this website so not really sure how things typically work, but my question is if anyone knows of any good volunteer abroad programs that gives undergrads hands-on-experience of medicine. I've heard stories of pre-meds going to Tanzania and Mexico and actually being able to diagnose, prescribe, and, even, cut. Maybe I'm just really gullible but if anyone knows of any programs that allowed you to experience any of that hands-on stuff please let me know!! I know it depends on the doctors and hospitals you end up with but any information would be gladly appreciated! I need the inside scoop because obviously the websites for these programs won't actually tell you these things.

Thanks!!:)

p.s. I'm 19, just in case there's an age limit for a program.
how would you do that? is there a pill you can take to learn these things overnight? the most they'd let you cut is some paper (and rightfully so!). At most you'll do clerical tasks. That's why I believe that if you send $100 to MSF or similar organization you're actually helping a lot more than your physical presence. Plenty of volunteers needed in the US, any inner city public clinic will be a great opportunity to learn, experience, and impress the ADCOMs.
 
Apr 8, 2010
50
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0
Status
Pre-Medical
Well I'm getting certified to be an EMT-B this summer. I'd go abroad next summer so therefore I would have some certification. Like I said, I might just be gullible but I've heard tons of stories from other people about pre-meds who have done these types of things. I've just never been able to actually talk directly to someone who has (which might be an indication that these stories are bogus). Maybe "cutting, diagnosing, and prescribing" is an exaggeration but I'd love the chance to assist in surgery or something like that.

There is one program that I know of that lets undergrads do mini-rotations for 10 weeks. They're called IE3 internships and, even my advisor here at school, has told me that students have been able to "do things" because the rules are so different. But I can't apply for it yet because you have to be 21.
 

apumic

Oracle of the Sheet
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Jan 1, 2007
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Denver, CO
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Medical Student
Well I'm getting certified to be an EMT-B this summer. I'd go abroad next summer so therefore I would have some certification. Like I said, I might just be gullible but I've heard tons of stories from other people about pre-meds who have done these types of things. I've just never been able to actually talk directly to someone who has (which might be an indication that these stories are bogus). Maybe "cutting, diagnosing, and prescribing" is an exaggeration but I'd love the chance to assist in surgery or something like that.

There is one program that I know of that lets undergrads do mini-rotations for 10 weeks. They're called IE3 internships and, even my advisor here at school, has told me that students have been able to "do things" because the rules are so different. But I can't apply for it yet because you have to be 21.
I'm taking a medical team to South America this summer and we have had to look into licensure laws. I can tell you that in most countries doing those things w/o a license is likely to get you arrested (if local authorities hear of it). Assisting with a surgery is often possible but it is just as possible here in the U.S. at a free clinic and really amounts to very simple things (giving tools to the doc, maybe some suturing, etc. -- things that a U.S. hospital would allow an EMT-B with add'l training and supervision to do). Your EMT-B, though, will be helpful to at least some degree, though, especially if you have some hospital experience along with it.