Students interested in medicine are encouraged to do their research regarding the wide variety of health professions careers available. This involves discussing this with their pre-health advisor or a health profession to better gain understanding into the nature and demands of medicine before submitting their application. Shadowing a healthcare professional is a great way to get a better understanding of what their typical day entails and whether it’s something you would like to pursue. This will also come in handy during your medical school application.
When most pre health students hear about pre health shadowing abroad, there is always this thrill and excitement which comes into them and of course almost every pre health student wants to undertake their shadowing rotations abroad. But do you always stop to ask yourself how is shadowing abroad different from shadowing from your home country? And if there is a difference how do you then make sure that your shadowing abroad counts and brings value to you? You don’t just want to travel in a far away country only for you to spend a lot of money and not get the kind of experience that you would like to get.
As a placement abroad advisor, working for Elective Africa for a couple of years now, below are some tips that would be useful to you for you to get the most out of your experience abroad whether you are planning to organize the program alone or you opt to use a placement organiser
- Clearly define your objectives
List down and clearly define all the objectives that you would like to accomplish while on your prehealth shadowing internship. Know the differences between shadowing in your country and shadowing abroad and know how you will make the most out of the difference. Know the kind of specialties that you would like to shadow in your clinical site. Make sure that you do a thorough research of the destination and clinical site that you would like to be in and what it has to offer both in terms of the hospital experience and off the hospital
- Daily evaluation of your experience
Once you start your clinical rotations from the first day in whichever specialties you are placed in, make sure that at the end of the day, you have time to sit down and reflect back on what you have learnt that day, what your expectation was and where you felt that you did not achieve what you wanted to. This way you will keep track of your experience and also be in control. Some placement organiser companies have the daily log system where students fill in how their day was and what they learnt and state their expectations of what they would like to experience more. This is a good way to track and manage your experience on a daily basis. You could also have a journal where you track your experience daily and make sure it is what you are getting
- Take charge of your hospital shadowing rotations
By this, I mean always being proactive in all aspects and especially at the hospital. Make sure to engage your departmental supervisors at all time by asking questions on what you cannot understand, being open to learn new things and showing interest in your program. One way you could do this is by organising yourself in a way that you can take rotations during the day and at times during the night.
- Engage in activities outside the hospital setting
Do not limit yourself to the hospital setting only, open yourself to volunteering activities like visiting and assisting in orphanages, children homes and local schools amongst others as Hippocrates said, “ wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity. This way you not only give back to the society but also leave a mark. Make sure you also undertake adventurous excursions at your destinations. Go out and discover new places.
Make sure that each and every day counts and always work hard towards getting the best by putting into practise the above tips and above all be open and optimistic to learning