Learn more about how we are approaching the pandemic.

Students walking through a hospital hallway.
Atlantis students walking through a hospital hallway (Lisbon, Portugal, 2019).

How It Works

Most programs take place over 1–10 weeks during college breaks in top hospitals in Europe.


What is 360 Shadowing?

Atlantis 360 Shadowing is a unique, time-tested model we have developed with over 100 hospital partners around the globe. When compared with regular shadowing or typical clinical experience, 360 Shadowing has far greater depth, breadth, quantity of hours, and intercultural perspective. And it takes place over college breaks, usually for a few weeks, almost always as a study abroad program in a developed-country healthcare system, in one or more countries.

Students examining medical equipment (Athens, 2019).
Atlantis students examining medical equipment while shadowing (Athens, Greece, 2019).
The Value of Atlantis

Life-Changing Experiences Made Accessible

As a busy pre-health student, trying to coordinate a few clinical experience and shadowing hours here and there is difficult and not always rewarding. Atlantis programs give you very meaningful clinical experience, and one that is good enough as to allow for the “luxury” of focusing more on grades during your semesters, while at the same time refining and showcasing most of the 15 competencies that medical schools assess candidates on. This overall experience is part of why our alumni can succeed in their healthcare paths post-college.

Students chatting with a doctor (Athens, 2019).
Two Atlantis students getting the opportunity to speak with a doctor while shadowing (Athens, Greece, 2019).

Our Alumni Enter Great Medical Schools

Zoey Petitt headshot.

Zoey Petitt

  • Atlantis '17
  • U. of Arizona '18
  • Duke MD '23
Nathan-Ewing Crystal headshot.

Nathan Ewing-Crystal

  • Atlantis '17
  • Yale '19
  • UCSF MD '23
Nick Morley headshot.

Nick Morley

  • Atlantis '17
  • Brown '13
  • Columbia MD '23
Elorm Yevudza headshot

Elorm Yevudza

  • Atlantis '16
  • Amherst '19
  • Columbia MD '24
Nick Tucker headshot.

Nick Tucker

  • Atlantis '16
  • Notre Dame '17
  • Case Western MD '21
Tiffany Hu headshot.

Tiffany Hu

  • Atlantis '16
  • UMD College Park '17
  • Michigan MPH '21 + MD '22
Yong hun Kim headshot.

Yong-hun Kim

  • Atlantis '17
  • Stanford '19
  • Mayo Clinic MD '24
Avneet Chadha headshot.

Avneet Chadha

  • Atlantis '17
  • UM-Ann Arbor '18
  • Kimmel MD '23
Janine Baldino headshot.

Janine Baldino

  • Atlantis '16
  • NC State '15
  • UNC Chapel Hill MD '22

Hospital Experience

Atlantis allows students to shadow abroad for 20+ hours each week in different departments. All hours are observation-only, following AAMC guidelines for pre-health experiences abroad (doing otherwise would jeopardize your Med/PA applications). Students typically shadow departments in pairs; some fields will be surgical but more often non-surgical. Below is a sample rotation schedule:

Preferences for specialties are not guaranteed. However, the vast majority of Atlantis participants get all or most of their choices.

  Sample Schedule A Sample Schedule B Sample Schedule C
Week 1 Cardiology Psychiatry Orthopedics
Week 2 Thoracic Surgery Emergency General Surgery
Week 3 Ophthalmology Cardiology Nuclear Radiology
Week 4 Dermatology Pediatrics OB/GYN
Week 5 Anesthesiology Pathology Neurology
Week 6 Hematology Cardiology Urology

Our team chooses program locations that are surrounded by the rich cultural offerings of Europe, while also ensuring the availability of a hospital setting, which is always our priority. We know many pre-health students are unable to study abroad due to course requirements. Atlantis allows students to combine the joys of travel abroad with the invaluable experience of shadowing, particularly 360 Shadowing, with its greater depth, breadth, quantity, and intercultural perspective, relative to most other clinical experiences available to U.S. pre-health students.

Three Alumni Speak About Their
Experience in the Hospital

Note on Language Skills

English levels vary within the hospital, but no knowledge of language is required for this to be a valuable experience. The vast majority of our alumni have not spoken the local language. We always encourage students to practice in the months leading up to their program, but this is not required.

Europe vs. the US: 5 years of extra life expectancy, at 70% lower costs

Both systems have many pros and many cons, and we believe each can learn from the other. But one pro of the European system is its lower cost relative to life expectancy.

Day in the Life

To make the most of your shadowing experience, you’ll want to pay special attention to the information you receive pre-departure and during your orientation. Try to proactively learn about how to optimize your time with the doctors. G00d communication, taking notes, and putting on a friendly smile go a long way. Also, check out our library of helpful PDFs. Finally, keep in mind that in a PhD-authored survey of a large sample of Atlantis alumni, 93% believed they progressed in the AAMC competencies that medical schools use to assess candidates; this happens because our students seek to make the most of their unique opportunity.


You’ll have light breakfast fare provided, typically in your housing location with the other students. Embrace the traditional local breakfast and coffee, grab your white lab coat, name badge, and notebook, and then it’s off to the hospital!

Shadowing Days

You’ll spend, in general, 5 hours or more each shadowing day, four days per week, in the hospital. This time will be spent shadowing doctors whenever they are available. Whether they are conducting consultations, grabbing a coffee with colleagues, or orchestrating a femur reconstruction surgery, you will be at their side throughout it. As with any shadowing situation, you’re not shadowing every minute—sometimes you’re waiting, for instance. But on the whole, you’ll observe with greater depth, breadth, quality, and intercultural perspective than you would in the majority of clinical experiences that pre-meds go through.

If you haven’t watched it already, watch the video below to see three alumni describe their hospital experiences and the specialties they saw:

Group Activities

Two group meals during the week and a weekly cultural excursion are organized by your Site Manager. You’ll have an excellent opportunity to try the local cuisine, immerse yourself in the local culture, and bond with other pre-health students from across the U.S. in your cohort. We often hear alumni, years after their Atlantis program, saying that they not only keep in touch with their peers, but they share pre-health tips, hold each other accountable on MCAT studying, debate application strategies, go on trips with each other inside the U.S., and invite each other to their weddings. These bonds are made during students’ time together in the hospital, but especially in group activities.

If you haven’t watched it already, see our Atlantis Experience video below, which covers many elements of the overall Atlantis experience:

Free Weekends

Whether you want to explore your host city on your own or plan a getaway to another European city with a group, weekends are 100% free of programming and allow for a multitude of enriching experiences. That said, you should also consider staying in your city.

A beach with a castle on a hill in the background.
A beach in Barcelona with a view of old castle architecture in the background in Spain (an Atlantis site).

Watch Video: The Atlantis Experience

The quality and organization of the program is unparalleled.

Greg K.Atlantis ’20Kansas State University ’21

What’s Included

On Program Components

  • Approximately 20 hours of AAMC-compliant observation-only shadowing each week, usually in a different department each week
  • In most locations, small groups of 10–15 students
  • Student-doctor ratio of 1:1 or 2:1
  • A small set of our programs are not shadowing-based but rather “Service-Research Projects”, and these substitute the 3 above bullet-point items with a full-time project
  • 1 excursion per week: usually on Fridays + 1 excursion on the Sunday after arrival
  • Housing with rooms separated by gender (with 1–2 roommates or several housemates, depending on housing type)
  • Transportation in and around the city for certain program activities
  • Small daily breakfast, lunch during the excursions, + 2 weekday group dinners per week (including one farewell dinner)
  • Health insurance while traveling on the program: covers certain medical expenses due to accidents, sickness, and specifically COVID-19; benefits include emergency medical evacuation
  • Atlantis Site Managers in your city will be available when you arrive, assisting during the program, and on-call if any issues arise
  • Journaling software to help you capture daily insights from your program, laying a foundation for your med/PA applications and interviews later

Pre/Post Program Components

  • Basic admissions advising by someone experienced with medical school admissions
  • Mentoring session from an incoming top 10 medical school student
  • Guidance for how to leverage your Atlantis experience on “Uniqueness Projects,” giving you the chance to create your own initiative, club, or non-profit to uniquely help connect healthcare professionals between Europe and the U.S.
  • HMX online course for pre-med students, with the potential to earn a certificate from Harvard Medical School upon completion. This course is not-for-credit, and is only available in some of our programs; our cities page clearly identifies programs that include HMX
  • Support for requesting course credit from your university wherever this is possible
  • Awards to distinguish participants with noteworthy contributions to the group and the community, providing one more asset in med/PA applications later

Learn More About the Additional Components

HMX Course

Some programs include a Harvard Medical School HMX course (and the potential to earn a certificate depending on performance) in one of several possible fields, such as physiology, which is made for students who have not yet entered medical school. It requires self-paced work over several weeks, before, during, or after your Atlantis program. The course lessons are given by renowned medical school faculty, with the potential to earn a certificate from Harvard Medical School upon completion.

Uniqueness Project Guidance

We have seen alumni do many unique projects after shadowing abroad with us, projects that set them apart as some of the very few people bridging international healthcare systems. Our programs can provide the ideal environment in which great opportunities can arise.

Admissions Advising & Mentoring

First-time Atlantis students from all programs receive a simplified version of admissions advising, presented by someone experienced with US medical school admissions. This is optional and free of any additional cost, but highly recommended. Separately, and also free of any cost, you will also have the opportunity to receive mentoring from an incoming top ten medical school student.

Support for Requesting Course Credit

Atlantis provides assistance for students who want to apply for experience credit or independent study credit through their university.

Note: Airfare is not included but can be very affordable. Read more in our Flight Tips guide.

My Site Manager was phenomenal at keeping our group organized and communicating the entire time. She was very thorough and helpful in navigating on the days I was experiencing trouble with my flight/luggage. She always had an answer to our questions.

Alexi B.Atlantis ’20Virginia Wesleyan College ‘21

Atlantis was definitely better than some of my other shadowing experiences. I was able to observe full surgeries and the doctors explained everything step by step to me.

Paulina O.

Atlantis ‘19

James Madison University ‘23

I keep contact with my Atlantis fellow members in my program that are still undergrads in multiple universities across the country.

Kevin S.

Atlantis ‘19

Quinnipiac University ‘16

In the morning I was shadowing doctors and observing amazing surgeries, then, in the afternoon and night I was immersing myself in Croatian culture.

Nicholas M.

Atlantis ‘19

U. of Massachusetts, Amherst ‘24

If I hadn’t done Atlantis I would not have realized my passion for surgery until much later or even never at all.

Aria C.

Atlantis ‘19

University of Utah ‘23

Our Programs Are For Students In Gap Years Too

Every year, many students participate in Atlantis programs after they’ve graduated. They enroll in the same programs as everyone else, and most programs usually have several students that already graduated. The fact that our programs have students more or less evenly distributed from all college years and beyond creates an experience where no one feels out of place. We also have students enrolling during pre-college gap years, though that is less common than post-college.

Greek ruins on a sunny day.
Who It’s For

Anatomy of An Atlantis Student

We are proud of the fact that our students come from a diverse set of backgrounds. They range from incoming college freshmen to recent graduates, post-college gap years, and post bacc students. Atlantis students:

  • Are at least 18 years old by the time their program is set to start (except for limited high school programs)
  • Have a genuine passion for healthcare, commitment to excellence, and professionalism
  • Go on to pursue a wide range of health professions: MD, DO, PA, Nursing, PT, OT, Pharmacy, and many others

Beyond Shadowing: Atlantis Also Runs Service-Research Projects

Unlike our shadowing programs, which are most of what we do and focus on observing healthcare professionals across multiple specialties, Atlantis Service-Research Projects are an opportunity to learn full-time from an Atlantis Project Leader, inside an elite healthcare organization, in a real project with members of management and administration, while performing a highly impactful service – a unique mix.

Students sitting around a table having a discussion.
Students coordinating their research with the Project Leader in a similarly-structured project (Summer 2019, Europe).


Atlantis programs run for 1–10 weeks over college breaks. Already have a job, vacation, or another pre-health activity  in place during an upcoming break? No problem. We offer plenty of start dates and program lengths (see our cities & programs page for those) to make sure we find the best fit for your schedule. Don’t see your ideal dates or locations on our site? Reach out to us and explain your situation.

Students making pesto in Italy
Atlantis students learning how to make pesto in Italy (Genoa, Italy, 2019).
Students sitting in a hospital ready for shadowing.
A group of Atlantis students sitting on a bench ready to start shadowing in a hospital (Thessaloniki, Greece, 2020).
Getting Started

Application Process

If you are a serious pre-health student, we’d love to help you jumpstart your future in healthcare. The first step is an online application, and the next stage in the process is a two-way alumni video interview. Once accepted, our team will help you select a program that works for your schedule and location preferences. You can always apply now, or, if you’re not quite ready to apply, we can keep you updated as our programs open and close, or we can connect you with an Atlantis alum for you to ask any questions that you may have.

Atlantis students kayaking in Spain (Barcelona, 2019).
Atlantis students kayaking off the coast of Spain (Barcelona, Spain, 2019).

Check Out the “How It Works” Section of Our FAQs Page

Watch Video: 20+ Alumni Now In Med School Explain:
Atlantis Is a Major Reason I Got In Here

Take the Quiz: Is Atlantis For You?

Compute your Shadowing and Extracurricular Readiness Score (SERS).