Katy16

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I was accepted into a competetive J-term class at my university where we travel to a Latin American country with alumni who are doctors, dentists and nurses and serve as their assistants as they provide medical care and education in underserved areas. We take a pre-trip class in the fall learning about cross-cultural care and global health systems. During my interview for the program I asked one of the doctors how they differentiate themselves from voluntourists and his answer satisfied me (I've studied abroad quite a bit and seen what I believed was medical tourism). However, from reading posts here I'm starting to worry that this is actually medical tourism. Thoughts?
 

Goro

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Yes, but I'll bet that there's a way you can give it a positive spin. I mean, it's part of a course, after all. Treat it as any MPH course on Global Health.
 
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Planes2Doc

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As long as you can speak positively about the experience and sound genuinely passionate about it. Otherwise, this was ruined by pre-meds a long time ago, and the "Golden Ticket" to medical school ship has long since sailed.
 

longhaul3

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This sounds fine, especially since it's run by your school. I encourage you to try to get most involved in the "education" part that you mentioned.

P.S. "Medical tourism" refers to patients seeking medical care abroad, often because it is illegal or prohibitively expensive at home.
 

bioboy23

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Yes, but I'll bet that there's a way you can give it a positive spin. I mean, it's part of a course, after all. Treat it as any MPH course on Global Health.
If trips like this are done through a student's university, is it likely okay?

Or a better way of phrasing: would adcoms question a trip made with a school group?
 

Goro

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If trips like this are done through a student's university, is it likely okay?

Or a better way of phrasing: would adcoms question a trip made with a school group?
In general, things like these really are medical tourism. You're not contributing anything to the countries being visited, and it's done for your benefit. If it can be spun as a global health thing, then that's the way to do it.

The wise @gonnif has prosted previously what schools and/or AMCAS thinks of these trips.


P.S. "Medical tourism" refers to patients seeking medical care abroad, often because it is illegal or prohibitively expensive at home.
We're well aware of that. The very first time I heard this term, it was from my Pathologist colleague on the Adcom, referring to a trip like the OP is going to do. Thus there are two definitions.
 
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candbgirl

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P.S. "Medical tourism" refers to patients seeking medical care abroad, often because it is illegal or prohibitively expensive at home...
This may be your definition but it isn't the widely discussed definition on SDN. Do a search for voluntourism.




Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile app
 
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Katy16

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Will you be displacing a local worker who might reasonably be getting paid for what what you are doing for free?
I hope not. We will be working in rural areas where there are very few doctors and essentially no dentists. I believe a large part of why I was selected is that I speak fluent Spanish, can understand the kind of fast, accented Spanish that Spanish courses do not teach you, and have taken a college course on medical Spanish (The doctors, dentists and nurses for the most part do not speak Spanish). The selection comittee expressed to me that they have difficulty finding good translators and for them having a student who can serve as a translator and assistant at the same time is a big help.
 

Toutie

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I hope not. We will be working in rural areas where there are very few doctors and essentially no dentists. I believe a large part of why I was selected is that I speak fluent Spanish, can understand the kind of fast, accented Spanish that Spanish courses do not teach you, and have taken a college course on medical Spanish (The doctors, dentists and nurses for the most part do not speak Spanish). The selection comittee expressed to me that they have difficulty finding good translators and for them having a student who can serve as a translator and assistant at the same time is a big help.
Just make sure you do NOT do any procedures you would not legally be allowed to do in the US. And if you do, then do NOT discuss it in your application or your interviews.
 

gyngyn

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I hope not. We will be working in rural areas where there are very few doctors and essentially no dentists. I believe a large part of why I was selected is that I speak fluent Spanish, can understand the kind of fast, accented Spanish that Spanish courses do not teach you, and have taken a college course on medical Spanish (The doctors, dentists and nurses for the most part do not speak Spanish). The selection comittee expressed to me that they have difficulty finding good translators and for them having a student who can serve as a translator and assistant at the same time is a big help.
You could inquire to see if they have tried to find local translators and assistants.
There is significant concern regarding these experiences: https://www.aamc.org/download/474346/data/clinicalexperiencesshadowingsurvey.pdf
 
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Katy16

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You could inquire to see if they have tried to find local translators and assistants.
At the interview they told me that they do use local translators as the grand majority of the students who go on the trip do not speak fluent Spanish, but in most of the rural areas there are not enough people who speak fluent English to have a translator for every medical professional as they would like (I do believe this is true, I have lived for a few months in rural towns in another Latin American country. I met only two locals with conversational English in that time). Therefore, they always try to select a few students who can double as translators. They also want assistants who speak English to faccilitate the giving of dirrections.

Do you have any other suggestions for how to do more good than harm? I am already very aware of the importance of not performing any procedure I am not licensed to provide.
 
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