As they navigate through Medical School, students are exposed to a varying number of opportunities, and among them gentle invitations to explore the medical perspectives of other nations. From in-class interactions with their colleagues from different parts of the world to conferences outside the university, they get a chance to look how their chosen field is practiced in different nations.


There are the school-organized conferences, in-country medical forums, international conferences and, of course, exchange programs. Some often are presented as summer opportunities for medical students abroad, ensuring the student would gain new knowledge and get fun all at once. Others, especially if inclined to specialties like Surgery tend to be more focused, and are open during the school hours.

To be able to fully understand the opportunities available, we would look at what a medical exchange program is, and how it stands to benefit the young medical practitioners.


Understanding the concept

A medical exchange program is a full-time or part-time educational initiative, designed to help young future doctors experience different health systems worldwide. This can be possible through organized symposiums, internships, conferences, etc. It is a program that encourages diversity and gives future doctors the chance to see the advancements that have been made in other countries. The participants get filled in on these advancements in the hope that perhaps, they can develop useful ideas on improving health systems in their home countries.

These initiatives are often funded by non-profit organizations or selected government organizations and can run for a period between one week and six months. They usually include partner universities or institutions across the globe joining hands with themselves or other organizations to provide international opportunities for medical students.


Understanding the benefit


There are a number of benefits attached to the privilege of participating in such training. The benefits can be compared to a Doctorate candidate getting a favourite research paper for sale for their personal use. We will go through some of them below:

  • An experience of diversity: Getting registered for a medical education exchange is a good opportunity to meet up with colleagues from various parts of the globe. It’s a good time to share views, perspectives, and ideas.
  • Learning from others: If your itinerary involves a conference, you might find yourself listening to important trend-setters in the world of medicine. You get to hear firsthand about their experiences, perspectives and even get some professional advice.
  • Learning for yourself: This is the most important reason for your participation – to learn a skill or two or hear about various approaches that could work on a certain health challenge. You would learn a great deal from your counterparts, and you get to see firsthand how their cultures have influenced their perceptions of medicine.
  • New places: Who isn’t excited to visit great places and get good, tasty food? You won’t spend all your time in the conference room – and the organizers know that. Among side attractions are visits to parks, heritage sites, natural gardens, and many other beautiful sights. It’s a perfect time to learn while enjoying the moment.


Examples of some of the best exchange initiatives available

There are a host of such initiatives worldwide, but we would choose only a few to talk about.

  1. The Professional Exchange program

This initiative is run by the Standing Committee on Professional Exchange (SCOPE). This category of programs has been running since 1951, offering various students the chance to ‘widen their horizon’. It spans across 90 countries worldwide. SCOPE offers one-month medical abroad programs for students based on either a unilateral or bilateral contract, in the discipline of choice.

  1. EF Student exchange programs

The EuropeiskaFerieskolam (EF) exchange program has been functional since the early 1960s. It’s an amazing program to consider enrolling, and they currently offer an exchange for all levels of study. At the core of their values is the power of experiential learning. The EF believes it can influence students to find more information by being ‘exposed’ to what they aren’t accustomed to.

If as a future physician, you already have an idea of your career path, internships in other countries are an excellent way to foster relationships and build strong professional networks that will stand the test of time.


Medical Exam Prep would like to thank Emily Watts for contributing this post. 

Emily Watts is a freelance writer and can be contacted at