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Volunteer Abroad Question

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by plzhelpmeh, Aug 15, 2015.

  1. plzhelpmeh

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    Hi, so I'm interested in starting a medical volunteering abroad club thing at my college. However, everything I have looked at charges fees of like 2000 dollars per student for just a 1 or 2 week trip, which I think would be better spent helping in my community than paying for air fare and lodging and all that.

    So I was wondering if anyone knew of any abroad programs that don't cost so much? Or does anyone know of any merit scholarship things that would pay for something like this?

    Thanks!
     
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  3. allantois

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    Where else do you think those islands get influx of tourists from?
     
  4. Petrichor1

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    shouldn't you be asking for merit scholarships for travel abroad from your school? You need to head to your international student office and discuss it with them. These scholarships are probably more within your reach versus some other scholarships not offered from your institute as you have more people applying possibly.

    Another note: an advisor told me that there is no need to travel abroad for medical internships. No one says on admissions that OMG this kid went to Ecuador and built a water tank---they should all know that every bit of this is accomplished by mainly people whose parents fund the trip. Let's say that you do go traveling abroad -- only going there once won't really look like you have a passion for helping people in third world countries. If you want to sell me that then I will probably either invite for an interview and grill you on the circumstances you saw those people experienced or I would not even look at that portion of the applicant as you have not learned about the medical aspects related to the US. Either you do it repetitively to show some form of mastery or you end up wasting money on a one-time trip that only you for the most part sees as significant. Remember that your hobbies shouldn't stay hobbies (or acitivites), you should be able to show that what you learned is economical (as in you go further with it in developing as a skill that people would be willing to value to the point of hiring you for it).
     
  5. Goro

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    The $2K will be much better spent volunteering at Habitat for Humanity.

    We Adcoms look down upon medical tourism.

     
  6. plzhelpmeh

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    Thanks everyone. So do you think it would be better for me to focus on doing local volunteering that I can do for longer than a few weeks? Because I wouldn't want to do the abroad thing if it just looks like something not that impressive to pad my resume.
     
  7. allantois

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    Doing a medical abroad trip will bring more scrutiny towards your app. Those trips have become notorious for allowing students to perform tasks that they are unqualified to perform and would be considered outright illegal in the states.
     
  8. plzhelpmeh

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    ^ Does anyone know if this is really true about all those trips?
     
  9. oopsaloo

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    My understanding, based on people I've talked to, is that volunteering abroad (and/or doing mission trips) can be worthwhile depending on what you make of it. If you're doing it solely for your application, then you might not get much out of it, but if you're going to see differences in healthcare, etc., then you probably have much you could gain. That being said, there's probably other opportunities locally, but I dont see anything wrong with doing some volunteering abroad if you prefer.
    At my university, many people fundraise to get money to volunteer abroad (like holding bake sales and stuff). Could be another option for you.
     
  10. gyngyn

    gyngyn Professor
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    They usually just serve to make our skin crawl.
     
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  11. Doudline

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    You have no skills. You are basically paying the company/organization for the hassle that is your presence, and something to put on your résumé.

    If you are looking to enact real change or learn valuable skills/lessons, you'll have to dedicate at least a full summer.
    Some organizations -mostly those working with children- will grant you room & board in exchange for full time work, 3-4+ months. It's a great experience. You often live with local families, learn on politics, the culture, the language, the situation regarding whatever your organization is working on, etc.

    You won't win the Nobel Peace Prize, mind you, but it's a good way to experience a different reality while not actively hurting anyone (which is generally the case with "voluntourism", because the majority of the money goes to for-profit agencies instead of local organizations).
     
  12. ac62994

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    Save your money. Serve your community.
     
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  13. gracielou94

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    Agreed. It looks much better to have a long term commitment to your local community than a (very) brief volunteer stint in another country that appears to adcoms as more self-serving than helpful.
     
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  14. tea guzzling traveler

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    @gyngyn @Goro
    Just out of curiosity although there's not much I can do about it now as my applications are already in. So in general I would say I am interested in global health and I have had a few stints abroad: one was for four months, and one was for 2. Prior to going to the medically oriented one, I got EMT certified so that I wouldn't be the premed suturing someone (heard someone talking about it and it also makes my skin crawl). I volunteered in a mobile clinic for 2 months but was very careful to not exceed my scope, and felt I learned something in the process about a different healthcare system. Would this experience negatively affect my application? Would it still count as clinical experience if I also had clinical experience in the United States?
     
  15. gyngyn

    gyngyn Professor
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    Probably not. It's quite common and apparently strongly promoted.
    We do not consider this clinical experience in the usual sense.
     
  16. tea guzzling traveler

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    Yeah, unfortunately I was also encouraged to do so by my premed advisor and he seemed to think that it did count. One more point towards the trusting sdn hive mind over premed advisors. :beat:

    For what it's worth, I'm volunteering in the community/ doing clinical work at a free clinic now, so we'll see if a reapp is needed. All I can do is move forward.

    But thanks for your feedback.
     
  17. SSSMDt

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    Interesting that to hear the adcoms look down on medical work abroad opportunities.. It seems like several schools have notions of "global medicine/underserved medicine" written into their mission statements, vision statement and values. In these cases it seems intuitive that these opportunities would illustrate positive aspects of an applicant.. or at least not make an Adcom's skin crawl..
     
  18. gyngyn

    gyngyn Professor
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    Hopefully, your personal qualities will shine through!
     
  19. genericpremedstudent

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    i think you missed the point about why it makes their skin crawl...
     
  20. Goro

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    The problem we have is mostly people use these as trips to the old country to visit Nana/Abuela/Ajima and maybe visit one of the local doctors. Either that or it's a visit to Cozumel.

    Seeing how Medicine is practiced in a Third World country doesn't tell you what you're getting into.


     
  21. GrapesofRath

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    IF you have to pay several thousand dollars to do something to "boost your resume" do you really think it is actually "boosting" your resume?
     
  22. Dirtybird

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    I spent four months in a latin American country after my college graduation, but it wasn't through any program. My spanish professor got me in contact with a doctor who ran the national pediatric palliative care program there. I worked as a volunteer at the day clinic. He also let me follow him around during one of these weeks as his team traveled by car across the country to visit patients. Why did I go? Clinical experience, cultural immersion, level up my spanish speaking skills.

    Plane tix were expensive, cost of living with my host family was $400 a month. Saved up the money for this myself but my parents did help with the plane tix. With regards to the whole "medical tourism" thing, I would argue that these experiences can definitely be a genuinely helpful addition to your premed journey, at least more so than a 1-2 week trip lol. This was one of the more profound experiences of my life, and it's given me a lot to write about in my apps this cycle. One thing I would warn though is that if you plan on doing something right when you get back, it's a bit tricky to job hunt while in a different country. I feel like I got pretty lucky with how my current workplace was willing to interview me upon my return.

    Anyways, my point is this: at least from my own experience with going abroad, I def wouldn't discourage it if you can make it a meaningful experience.
     
    #21 Dirtybird, Aug 17, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2015
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  23. Lawgiver

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    as long as you volunteer abroad it makes for a great app addition. find some way to pay for it, it will be worth it.
     

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