What is Atlantis?
Maybe you saw one of your pre-med friends post a picture from Genova, Italy, in a pair of scrubs. Maybe before that you passed a poster in the hall at your university, or heard your pre-med advisor mention it at an informational meeting about summer opportunities. Shadowing abroad with Atlantis. What is it? Why would pre-med students be interested? How would you benefit?
An Atlantis program 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 (think Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Croatia, etc.). For a period of three to six weeks, students accompany physicians on their rounds in the hospital, rotating into a new specialty each week. By so doing, students are able to see different areas of medicine, compare their own healthcare system with that of a foreign country, and enjoy a summer that will shape a new perspective to guide them throughout their pre-med path and beyond. There are also opportunities for MCAT prep and network building among doctors and like minded pre-med students. When they’re not in the hospital, students participate in full-day excursions, group meals, and even have their weekends free.
It sounds pretty great, so what might make you hesitate about shadowing abroad? Here are some questions to consider. The Atlantis program is an opportunity that you pay for, with costs ranging from $2000 to $6000, depending on the length and location of the program you choose (not including the price of plane tickets and personal travel). 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, such as financial aid, scholarships, and fundraising support. It could be helpful to consider that, 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. Once you have full confidence in your desire 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. There are numerous Atlantis Alumni, now accepted to medical school, who can attest to this.
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. Atlantis is certified to follow the guidelines for international shadowing, in order to ensure that all involved are safe during their program. 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 program cannot replace shadowing in the United States, but it enhances one’s shadowing experience by introducing students to different procedures and healthcare systems. 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, Atlantis 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 program, students can draw from their experience to impress in personal statements, essays, and medical school interviews.
Is it safe?
Atlantis takes the safety of its students very seriously. While travel abroad always involves some risks, all of our placements are in cities and countries that are ranked higher than the United States on the Global Peace Index. Site Managers (overseas members of the Atlantis Team) are stationed in every site location to be a resource for students as they participate in the program. As residents of the cities themselves, these Site Managers are available around the clock, are familiar with the language and surroundings, and will be able to direct students with accuracy. This support, along with pre-departure orientations and a clear set of expectations discussed one-on-one with an Admissions Coordinator, 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.
Atlantis 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 program demonstrates your dedication to medicine and will set you apart as a medical school applicant who takes their path seriously. To learn more about Atlantis, please visit our website at https://atlantisglobal.org/.