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Increasing numbers of students are going abroad for international healthcare work experience, as it can be an interesting way to stand out in your UCAS application. But with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it might not be the most practical option right now.

How Valuable Is International Medical Experience?

Getting medical work experience overseas can be a great way of developing your understanding of Medicine in the global context, and could be an excellent addition to your portfolio.

However, international experience can be costly and it is definitely not a prerequisite to getting into Medical School. You might also find that it’s difficult to arrange at the moment due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic around the world.

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What Will I Learn From International Placements?

Overseas medical placements offer an opportunity to witness cases that you might not see at home. For example, tropical diseases such as malaria and dengue fever are much more prevalent in developing countries.

An awareness of the economic, social and environmental factors affecting healthcare in other regions could help your application to make an impression. Leaving your comfort zone and exploring diverse interests is also something that could impress admissions officers.

How Can I Make The Most Of My International Placement?

If you’re fortunate enough to experience healthcare abroad, you must make it count.

Admissions tutors often tell us how frustrating it can be when faced with a student who has excellent work experience on paper – but they haven’t reflected on what they’ve learned.

Students who reflect on their experiences well are able to pick out valuable skills they gained, plus striking examples of how international healthcare varies in comparison to the NHS. They can also talk confidently around global healthcare issues such as resources and education.

If you decide that an international placement is right for you, make sure you keep a detailed diary and reflect as much as possible to squeeze all the value out of this opportunity.

International Placement Alternatives

International work experience is not a requirement for Med School, so you may feel that it’s better to stay at home and find a local placement. Some of your options include:

If you’re really keen on gaining international experience, our Volunteering & Reflection Programme can help. As well as offering the chance to volunteer remotely around the world with award-winning charity Kissing It Better, you’ll also get access to 10 companion modules – and some of these will teach you about volunteering abroad. Plus, you’ll get a year’s access to TMP MedSoc.

You may also be able to find some webinars or live Q&As with students and Doctors abroad, who will be able to share their experiences with you. This would help to boost your knowledge and demonstrate your motivation to study Medicine, without the commitment of an international placement.

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