So you are a medical student and are in search of volunteering abroad opportunities for medical students because you want to gain skills and you want to help those in need of your current skills and knowledge.
Volunteering overseas is a good way to do it. You can get to learn a lot about the industry, how things work and what you can achieve. However, it is not as straightforward. There are some things you need to consider and keep in mind. The next few paragraphs will help you understand what does it involve and what to be careful about.
1. You Shouldn’t Pay a Fee
There are companies that will offer you a chance to volunteer, but for a fee. However, that’s not exactly what volunteering means. If you pay to volunteer, then that’s tourism and you shouldn’t have to pay for getting there and helping others.
When you pay to volunteer, the impact will either be negative or non-existent. Volunteering is all about going to another country to help other people and providing them with the necessary assistance. If you’re not doing that, then obviously you are not volunteering and you have to handle this process the best way that you can.
Plus, if someone asks you to pay for volunteering, then they are obviously interested in costs and not the impact of your work.
2. You Need Skills
Volunteering isn’t as simple as you might imagine. Even if you have a good understanding of the process from books, the reality is a lot different most of the time.
You need to have skills to offer and you will also have to learn new ones. Ideally, you want to focus on improving your medical knowledge all the time while you are there. Some of the important skills are medical support, research, first aid and so on.
The best thing about volunteering is that you get to see what real-life medical assistance means.
And that will help your career, not to mention it will give a very good insight into the medical world as a whole. And all these things matter quite a bit, which is why you have to tackle them early on.
3. You Need a Degree
In order to volunteer abroad as a medical student, you will be required to have a degree. It doesn’t happen all the time, however, there are situations where the hosts will indeed request a nursing or medical degree.
It’s extremely important to acquire a degree if you want to boost your career. And then you can use the volunteering experience as a way to show that you did practice in the field. Sometimes you will also be allowed to assist professional practitioners, and in that case, you should totally do it.
And again, do try to avoid those persons that ask you to pay for helping or volunteering. That’s not ok and it’s something you want to avoid as much as you can.
4. You Need to Contribute a Lot
When you go in a volunteering experience, that won’t be a vacation. If anything, you will have to contribute a lot as a foreigner, you need to put in as much work as you can in order to make everything run the way it needs to. But it can totally be worth it if you put your mind and hard work into all of it.
After all, if they want someone without any skill they can find such a person locally. If they ask for volunteers, then they expect you to have more skills than a local.
Ideally, you want to volunteer for the long term. 6 months or more would be the best option if possible.
Also, if you have the skills and knowledge to mentor locals, then this volunteering experience will be even more worth it. The idea is to adapt yourself to the process and actively focus on finding the right solutions. Yes, it can definitely be tricky at times, but if you adapt and adjust to the process you will be more than ok.
5. You’ll Be Safe
There’s always a question of safety when you go to another country as a volunteer. You might go to Latin America, Asia or Africa, but all these places are safe.
Sure, you will hear bad things about these locations at times, but the volunteering locations are always free of any safety concerns. You do need to keep in mind that many developing countries are actually safer than the western world large cities.
Some of these countries have digital nomads and people that relocated here too, not to mention that most people are very peaceful and friendly here. Which means you will actually have a really good time here, despite not seeming like that in the beginning.
6. You’ll Get a Lot
Volunteering has great opportunities for you. It allows you to gain insight into other cultures and how people live. It also enables you to learn more about health problems all over the world. Plus, you get to have a positive feeling that you helped and made a difference, not to mention you will get contacts and lots of experience.
It will be hard to give as much as you get, which clearly shows that volunteering can be an amazing experience and a really good opportunity. That’s why we encourage you to start volunteering as soon as you can, as it’s one of those medical experiences you do not want to miss.
While volunteering might seem hard at first, the reality is that it has the potential to change your life in numerous ways. Yes, it’s tricky at times and it has its fair share of challenges. But as long as you are fully committed to helping others you will be more than ok.
Yes, volunteering can be exhausting but it can also be extremely rewarding. You will get to help other people and even save lives. These are feelings that not many human beings tend to experience, so you will feel very lucky and you will cherish those moments for your entire life!