Premedical students often have an interest in volunteering abroad. They frequently perceive global problems to be more acute than those in the US, and they want to make a difference by getting involved. There are several organizations that charge premed students for relatively short-term stints in various countries around the world. There are also faith-based companies that sponsor trips abroad to minister to the health needs of residents, and students can join these groups, as well.
While there are valuable lessons premed students can learn from these experiences, there are justifiable concerns associated with volunteering abroad. An article in Academic Medicine on Global Health Experiences and Host Perceptions addresses some of these concerns and raises important questions for premed students and others to consider. In a blog posting on Wing of Zock, reflections on the article and concerns regarding global volunteering are raised. In addition, the Association of American Medical Colleges has compiled guidelines for global volunteering. Premed students should read these guidelines before venturing abroad to volunteer. Premeds should also be mindful that there are pockets of the US where the health needs are as acute as those overseas.
–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting