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Study Abroad, Atlantis

The Complete Guide to Pre-Med Study Abroad | Atlantis

About The Atlantis Team

We offer helpful, informative content to the next generation of healthcare professionals, so that they can achieve their goals, avoid common pitfalls, and grow in their passion for healthcare.

Is studying abroad as a pre-med possible?

For many students, studying abroad is part of the college experience. However, due to the intensity and unique challenges of the pre-med path, many pre-med students have fewer options that fit their requirements.

While studying abroad isn’t required to attend med school, the opportunity to learn about medicine in a different country and shadow leading physicians in a foreign setting can help pre-meds become better doctors. 

Read on to learn all about the pre-med study abroad experience, including its benefits and testimonials from real students who have completed the Atlantis pre-med study abroad program.

What is Pre-Med Study Abroad

Pre-med study abroad isn’t your average studying abroad experience. While much of the core concepts are the same (traveling to a foreign country for educational purposes), the actual studying component is often much more in-depth.

With Atlantis, pre-med study abroad takes the stress out of trying to coordinate your own clinical experience and shadowing hours. Along with the typical study abroad experiences such as traveling, pre-meds also have the opportunity to shadow leading physicians and gain clinical knowledge to a greater depth, breadth, and quantity of hours when compared to other programs. 

Pre-med study abroad experiences can take place over college breaks and last for a few weeks in a country with a developed healthcare system.

Read about one pre-med’s experience studying abroad in Portugal for a first-hand account of this path.

Is Pre-Med Study Abroad Right For You?

Every pre-med journey is different. And that means a pre-med study abroad experience may not be for everyone. If you’re deciding whether this option is right for you, check out some of these resources that have helped other pre-meds with their decision

Atlantis programs give pre-med students a very meaningful clinical experience. Between the busy semesters and work, this time abroad affords them the “luxury” of maintaining their grades while also refining their skills and showcasing most of the 15 AAMC competencies medical schools assess candidates on.

Again, every student’s reason for studying abroad is different. Read about the reasons one Atlantis alum participated in this unique experience to see if they align with your own.

Benefits of Pre-Med Study Abroad

Though pre-med study abroad doesn’t allow students to practice medicine, they are still absorbing valuable clinical knowledge by shadowing top physicians. Here are a few other benefits of pre-med study abroad:

Experience different cultures – Pre-med study abroad immerses students in the local culture as well as the healthcare scene. This balance is often hard to come by in other programs.

Shadow complex procedures – In the U.S., students can’t always shadow complex procedures. Atlantis pre-med study abroad allows students to observe surgeries and high-level work they may not otherwise be able to see.

Determine your future in healthcare – Pre-med study abroad often helps students determine where their passion lies. There’s only so much you can learn in the classroom, and shadowing in a foreign environment can help you determine if you’re physically and mentally prepared for a career in the field. More so, this experience can also help you narrow your career focus and develop confidence in your chosen path.

Time and time again, students report that shadowing abroad programs like Atlantis have changed their interest in medicine for the better.

Learn about global healthcare – Pre-med study abroad gives students firsthand knowledge of global healthcare that you can’t learn in the classroom. In your future career, you will be faced with a lot of challenges, and having a global perspective of healthcare (i.e. what works for some countries and what doesn’t) is essential for success. Being able to speak on the universal healthcare landscape is also beneficial during med school admissions.

What To Expect From Pre-Med Study Abroad

Not all pre-med study abroad experiences are created equal. When choosing to shadow abroad as a pre-med student, you should ensure the program you are choosing emphasizes the following:

Practical hours: You want to ensure you are studying abroad and shadowing for an appropriate amount of time without it interfering with other work you may be doing. A designated study abroad program for shadowing can ensure that you are receiving 60-140 shadowing hours without sacrificing your free time or other academic studies. This balance is also important for enjoying your time abroad to the fullest by being able to explore local cultures and even neighboring countries.

Doctor ratio: A student to doctor ratio of 1:1 or 2:1 is ideal for the best, most personalized experience abroad.

Small groups: Shadowing and studying abroad with a small group of students (around 10-15) allows everyone to bond, ask questions, and have their voice heard.

Various specializations: A program should provide pre-meds with the opportunity to observe various specializations to determine which they are the most interested in.

Wondering which pre-med study abroad program is right for you? Read about how one pre-med student chose the program they attended.

The Pre-Med Study Abroad Experience

While there are many ways to study abroad, traveling to a foreign healthcare setting with a designated program can give pre-meds the most immersive and beneficial shadowing experience. And don’t be worried about learning in a new country, read one student’s take on “Atlantis Shadowing in Europe: Why the Language Wasn’t a Barrier For Me.” No foreign language skills are required to study abroad and shadow physicians with Atlantis. The vast majority of Atlantis alumni haven’t spoken the local language. 

The opportunity to study abroad as a pre-med is the perfect balance of fun and education with Atlantis. Students are immersed in local culture and can experience the thrills of travel, but are also simultaneously becoming well-informed on how the healthcare system operates on a national and global scale through shadowing. All of this is to say that pre-med study abroad empowers students to become more well-rounded healthcare professionals in the future and also attractive candidates to med school programs across the country and around the world.

Other benefits of a pre-med study abroad experience include:

  • Traveling and seeing the world while gaining practical experience
  • Standing out on med school applications by including experience at top international hospitals
  • Learning the nuances of global healthcare and different medical practices
  • Gaining instructions from leading international physicians

About Atlantis Pre-Med Study Abroad Experiences

Atlantis is the global leader in healthcare experiential education. Atlantis has run programs for almost 15 years, and Atlantis alumni, after participating in Atlantis and graduating from college, have gone on to attend almost all medical schools in the U.S. Atlantis operates short-term shadowing abroad programs (1-10 weeks) over school breaks, aimed at U.S. undergraduates, that take place primarily in the U.S. and Europe.

Medical schools (from top Ivy Leagues to local universities) look for three main things in applicants:

  1. Healthcare exposure
  2. GPA/MCAT scores
  3. AAMC competencies

Pre-med study abroad with the right program can provide students with all three. Read about one pre-med’s review of Atlantis to learn more about what to expect from this unique program.

Explore study abroad opportunities with Atlantis by starting your application process, or by connecting with an Atlantis alum.


Want to learn more about pre-med study abroad shadowing experience? Easily browse through the list of related blogs from Atlantis:

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About Atlantis

Atlantis is the leader in pre-health shadowing and clinical experience, offering short-term programs (1-10 weeks) over academic breaks for U.S. pre-health undergraduates. Medical schools want 3 things: (1)healthcare exposure, (2)GPA/MCAT, and (3)certain competencies. Atlantis gives you a great version of (1), frees you to focus on (2), and cultivates/shows (3) to medical school admissions committees.

A student smiling and learning how to kayak.

Watch Video: The Atlantis Shadowing Experience and How it Helps In Your Med/PA Admissions Future

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Cover of the Medical School Admissions Guide.
Two Atlantis alumni admitted to Top 5 MD programs wrote our widely read medical school admissions guidebook — download yours.