Maybe you saw an ad on social media, passed a poster in the hall at your university or heard of another student participating this summer. Shadowing abroad with The Atlantis Project. What is it? Why would pre-med students be interested? How would you benefit?
The Atlantis Project Fellowship is an opportunity for students who are passionate about medicine and international exchange to gain valuable clinical experience by shadowing doctors for 20+ hours a week in a different country. For a period of three to eight weeks, students accompany physicians on their rounds in the hospital, rotating specialties each week. By so doing, students are able to see different specialties of medicine, identify approaches to patient care to develop in their own practice of medicine, and enjoy a summer that will shape a perspective to guide them in their schooling and beyond. There are also opportunities for MCAT prep and network building among doctors and likeminded pre-med students. AND all of this occurs in some of the most incredible cities in Europe and South America, offering Fellows a wonderfully unique and impactful educational experience.
It sounds pretty great, so what might make you hesitate about shadowing abroad? Here are some questions to consider. The Atlantis Project Fellowship is an opportunity that you pay for, with costs ranging from $4000 for three week programs and up to $7800 for eight week programs, not including the price of plane tickets and other expenses. As a student, that can be a substantial investment!
Is that really affordable?
While the initial sticker shock may discourage you from applying, there are several resources available to students to help them finance their experience, many of which are detailed in this fundraising guide. In the long run, the clarification provided by shadowing a physician could help you face future expenses on your pre-med track with confidence. If you have spent 20+ hours a week for a few weeks, immersed in the daily life of a physician, you will have a much greater awareness of whether or not you want to pursue that career. Think of it as a way to save yourself unnecessary doubt and anxiety as you meet notoriously expensive medical school application fees and tuition for medical school. And once you have that confidence to pursue a career in medicine, the experiences you have shadowing abroad will give you material for applications, personal statements, and interviews that will help you stand out as an applicant.
In addition to the cost, why just shadow when you could have a more hands-on experience somewhere else
Actually, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) frowns upon patient care before students are licensed. The Atlantis Project is determined to follow the guidelines for international shadowing, in order to ensure that all involved are safe during the fellowship. That way, you have an educationally enriching experience while maintaining safety and legitimacy.
OK, but why go abroad in the first place? If I am planning on practicing in the United States, what would shadowing abroad do for me?
Shadowing is not impossible in the United States and ought to be done by those interested in pursuing a career in medicine. An Atlantis Project Fellowship cannot replace shadowing in the United States, but it enhances one’s shadowing experience by introducing students to different procedures and healthcare systems. Differences in privacy laws between the United States and other countries mean that students can observe more procedures abroad than they can domestically. Such experience can also help students form a more complete view of medicine, identify what characteristics make a good physician, and discuss global healthcare articulately. To ensure that shadowing is worthwhile to students, the Atlantis Project partners with hospitals where technology and standards are comparable to those in the United States. That shared standard allows students to draw comparisons between healthcare in the United States and healthcare in a different country. As Einstein advised, “the only source of knowledge is experience”. After participating in a fellowship, students can draw from their experience to impress in personal statements, essays, and medical school interviews.
Is it safe?
The Atlantis Project takes the safety of its Fellows very seriously. While travel abroad always involves some risks, all of our placements are ranked higher than the United States on the Global Peace Index. Site managers (overseas members of the Atlantis Project Team) are stationed in every site location to be a resource for students as they participate in the fellowship. As residents of the cities themselves, these site managers are familiar with the surroundings and will be able to direct Fellows with accuracy. This support, along with pre-departure orientations and a clear set of expectations agreed to in a contract signed by each Fellow, students will be well prepared to travel safely.
If it’s in a different country, will I need to speak another language?
Not necessarily. While this can be a good opportunity to use language skills and get outside your comfort zone, support staff on the site will be fluent in English. Doctors, too, often have some level of English fluency, though their interactions with patients will be in their native language. Still, much can be learned through nonverbal communication as you observe interactions between patient and doctor. Without words to focus on, your thoughts can focus on expressions, gestures, and tone of voice, giving you a clearer picture of what makes a good physician beyond words.
The Atlantis Project provides a unique blend of international experience and educational shadowing. It is an opportunity to expand your worldview by interacting with another country, while clarifying your passion for medicine. Participation in a fellowship demonstrates your dedication to medicine and will set you apart as a medical school applicant who takes their path seriously,
To learn more about the Atlantis Project, please visit our website at atlantis-project.org.