Pre-med students shadow abroad in a hospital setting in Greece through Atlantis

One of the most exciting parts about going to college is the opportunity to study abroad. Sadly, many pre-med students rule out the possibility, not even considering it due to the rigor of their field of study. Maybe you were told something like:

  • “Your science credits from abroad won’t count.”
  • “You won’t complete your required courses before graduation.”

If you are pre-med and pre-health and gave up on your dream of studying abroad, you aren’t alone! But there are in fact programs available that provide that cultural experience, allow you to live in an international environment, AND help strengthen your future med school application. Instead of studying abroad for a semester, consider shadowing abroad for a summer.

College is a time where open-minded students can engage in informed academic study and discussion and meet students and faculty from diverse locations and backgrounds. Off-campus internships, volunteer work, and studying abroad can be a big part of enhancing those on-campus experiences and holistically preparing you for what’s next. 

Shadowing abroad offers pre-med students the best of both worlds. You can still focus on the academics of a rigorous medical school prep on campus, but then deepen your exposure to health care and clinical settings while immersing yourself in the culture of another country during school breaks and/or over the summer.

Atlantis is a pre-health focused company that has focused on shadowing abroad programs since 2007. To give a sense of what the experience is like, see below for what Atlantis alum Alexa Szatkowski has to say about the benefits she got from shadowing abroad.

What led you to consider shadowing abroad?

As a first-year student in my first semester, my advisor told me “You’re a pre-health student, studying abroad won’t be possible.” Those words broke my eager heart that wanted to experience the world, but it made sense. How was I supposed to be a well-rounded student that passed classes, led extracurricular activities, and still needed to fit clinical exposure into her schedule, while studying abroad? The answer, at least for me, was Atlantis.

What are some of the benefits of shadowing abroad for pre-health students (pre-med, pre-PA and nursing)? What did you get out of the program?

Alexa, an Atlantis alum who shadowed in ItalyDuring college, I had not found the time to incorporate clinical experience. By enrolling in this program over the summer and enjoying clinical experiences, I was able to focus on classes and requirements during the school year. Shadowing abroad gave me a new perspective on healthcare, patient care, and a physician’s life. I also got an in-depth look at specialties; I spent three weeks rotating between the Emergency Room, Neurosurgery, and Cardiosurgery departments at Instituto Giannina Gaslini in Genoa, Italy. Although I only saw one surgery during my Neurosurgery week, the surgeon sat with us each day to answer questions, explain different procedures, and gave us many points to remember in our careers.

One additional benefit was understanding how to ease patients and families concerns in the ER, despite a language barrier. I heard everything from Italian, French, German, Ukrainian, and English and watched how physicians tackled this barrier to fully assist a patient.

How did shadowing abroad satisfy your desire to study abroad?

The program builds in both free time and structured activities to create experiences outside the hospital or clinic so that you can fully enjoy your host country. Every evening, my group would meet at the beach or city center to explore and share the events of our day. Those were some of my favorite moments because we learned from each other’s experiences too. During the weekends, we traveled to Recco, Camogli, and Nice, France; then, Santa Margherita, Portofino, and Cinque Terre. Our time away from shadowing was essential because we immersed ourselves in a new culture and grew outside the hospital setting.

Atlantis offers pre-health students the opportunity to shadow in a healthcare setting in another country during school breaks (usually the summer).

Learn more about Atlantis.