Learn more about how we are approaching the pandemic.

Students at European Interbalkan Medical Center.
Atlantis students at the hospital where they are shadowing (Thessaloniki, Greece, 2019).

For Parents

1. Introduction

What We Do

Atlantis is the global leader in healthcare experiential education in and surrounding the college years. We have 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. We operate short-term programs (1-10 weeks) over school breaks, aimed at U.S. undergraduates, and taking place primarily in the U.S. and Europe. Medical schools want 3 things: healthcare exposure, GPA/MCAT, and certain competencies; Atlantis gives students the best version of the 1st, frees them to focus on the 2nd, and cultivates/shows the 3rd to medical school admissions committees.

 

Atlantis Helps at Different Stages Of The Pre-Health Journey

Atlantis makes students more competitive to schools and provides clarity about their career choice. Where does your student fall in the matrix?

Who Are You? How Atlantis May Help
You’re unsure about your medical vocation Get clarity about whether medicine is for you
You’re competitive for medical school admissions Get more offers/scholarships/options
You’re not yet competitive for admissions Get competitive for admissions

How This Page Is Structured

This page is organized around themes represented by common questions from parents and guardians. Feel free to use the menu to navigate through this page.

2. Will Atlantis Help With Getting Into Medical/Graduate School?

Atlantis can give students the elements known to drive successful medical school applications (and interviews) or applications to schools of other health professions. Below, after a few box mini-profiles showing some of our alumni, you’ll see links to the parts of our website that show evidence of that success, but also to sections that explain why that success happens in the first place.

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
Janine Baldino headshot.

Janine Baldino

  • Atlantis '16
  • NC State '15
  • UNC Chapel Hill MD '22
Avneet Chadha headshot.

Avneet Chadha

  • Atlantis '17
  • UM-Ann Arbor '18
  • Kimmel MD '23

Why Is It That So Many Alumni Are Successful?

Our “Why” page explains the three things that medical schools want, and how Atlantis can play a role in each. In each part of the “Why” page you can also click to go to a deep dive and have a deeper view in a separate page (if you need it).

It’s Not Just Getting in; It’s Getting in AND Having Options

It’s not just about being accepted to just any medical school; it’s about being accepted AND having great options. The med/PA school admissions process is a challenging and competitive one. Help your student maximize their chances of being accepted to not one but ideally multiple schools by standing out with the best healthcare exposure, great stats (GPA and MCAT), and proven AAMC competencies.

Students walking through the hallway of the hospital where they are shadowing.
Atlantis students walking through the hallway of the hospital where they are shadowing (Genoa, Italy, 2019).

Specialization in Medicine…And Also In Education

If you needed heart surgery, you wouldn’t seek a generalist doctor, since there are benefits to specialization. Similarly, almost everything we do is in healthcare, which is part of the reason we’ve been able to contribute to the success of our alumni the way we have. A very large share of pre-meds in the U.S. study abroad for a few weeks or a few months during their undergraduate years, but they often do so in generalist study programs, which is what many universities offer. These are often great programs in themselves, but they miss an opportunity to also contribute to students’ healthcare path. Atlantis brings the best of study abroad, while also contributing to (A)students’ healthcare paths, and (B) society’s need for doctors who are committed and passionate for their fields.

This program was an absolutely incredible experience for our daughter, far beyond our expectations.

DeenaMother of CarolineGeorgetown ’18
A basic table showing two comparison columns to indicate the benefits of 360 shadowing.

Alternatively, See a More In-Depth Version of The Above Table

Compare A Typical Applicant With an Atlantis Alum (in depth view)

Med School Concern #1: Exposure to Healthcare

Average Applicant to Med School

Average Applicant to Med School

Typical/Possible Atlantis Alum

AAMC-compliance

  • Did hands-on volunteering, possibly without proper training
  • Did hands-on volunteering, possibly without proper training

AAMC-compliance

  • Did observation-only, AAMC-compliant shadowing

Complexity of procedures

  • Observed day-to-day office tasks + appointments
  • Observed day-to-day office tasks + appointments

Complexity of procedures

  • Often observed complex procedures like a C-section, or a partial hip replacement

Closeness to MD-level work

  • Exposed to healthcare setting in general
  • Exposed to healthcare setting in general

Closeness to MD-level work

  • Focused on the MD profile + perspective

Number of specialties

  • Exposed to 2 or 3 specialties
  • Exposed to 2 or 3 specialties

Number of specialties

  • Saw 6 specialties in 6 weeks (typically one per week), and 8 or 9 total

Number of environments

  • Experienced one local environment and one hospital setting
  • Experienced one local environment and one hospital setting

Number of environments

  • Experienced a variety of cultures, department dynamics, hospital sizes, and city sizes

Number of doctors

  • Shadowed 2 or 3 doctors and potentially met their colleagues
  • Shadowed 2 or 3 doctors and potentially met their colleagues

Number of doctors

  • Shadowed 10 or more doctors and met many department staff and residents

Total number of hours

  • Completed a smaller number of hours
  • Completed a smaller number of hours

Total number of hours

  • Did 100+ shadowing hours in 5 weeks (20+ hours per week)

Hours over time

  • Picked up hours piecemeal throughout the year
  • Picked up hours piecemeal throughout the year

Hours over time

  • Concentrated hours over 6 weeks during summer break

Value per hour

  • Had less valuable experience in a given time
  • Had less valuable experience in a given time

Value per hour

  • Had highly valuable experience in a short time

Multi-country shadowing

  • Shadowed only in the U.S.
  • Shadowed only in the U.S.

Multi-country shadowing

  • Shadowed in Spain, Italy, and Hungary, plus the U.S.

Relevant study abroad experience

  • Had done non-healthcare study abroad
  • Had done non-healthcare study abroad

Relevant study abroad experience

  • Combined the best of study abroad’s cultural immersion with world-class clinical shadowing

View of the medical profession

  • Wasn’t aware of the parts of medicine that differ across cultures
  • Wasn’t aware of the parts of medicine that differ across cultures

View of the medical profession

  • Developed a balanced view, identifying what’s essential vs. culturally contingent in medicine

Knowledge of comparative healthcare policy

  • Lacking firsthand knowledge of different advanced healthcare systems
  • Lacking firsthand knowledge of different advanced healthcare systems

Knowledge of comparative healthcare policy

  • Informed and able to maturely analyze comparative healthcare

GPA

  • Achieved similar results to peers
  • Achieved similar results to peers

GPA

  • Spent more time studying and achieved better results than peers

MCAT

  • Scored average on the MCAT
  • Scored average on the MCAT

MCAT

  • Scored above average by focusing more on academics and doing more MCAT prep

Number of distractions

  • Spread thin with commitments to volunteering, clubs, societies, publications, sports, hobbies, leadership roles, etc.
  • Spread thin with commitments to volunteering, clubs, societies, publications, sports, hobbies, leadership roles, etc.

Number of distractions

  • Focused on one or two extracurricular activities they were passionate about

Energy level

  • Was tired and overwhelmed but felt like they hadn’t done enough
  • Was tired and overwhelmed but felt like they hadn’t done enough

Energy level

  • Was less overwhelmed, with space to enjoy classes and fall more in love with medicine

Confidence in healthcare path

  • Is fairly confident, but hasn’t had it “click” that medicine is their calling
  • Is fairly confident, but hasn’t had it “click” that medicine is their calling

Confidence in healthcare path

  • Is very confident, having seen incredible procedures and realized, “This is where I want to be, serving people”

Service Orientation

  • Wrote in their personal statement about approaching medicine with a service mentality
  • Wrote in their personal statement about approaching medicine with a service mentality

Service Orientation

  • Actually spent quality time with passionate, other-oriented doctors abroad whose salaries are relatively lower

Social Skills

  • Shared in their interview some examples of doctor-patient interactions and some takeaways
  • Shared in their interview some examples of doctor-patient interactions and some takeaways

Social Skills

  • Shared unique stories from a wealth of experiences where their social strengths and weaknesses played out

Cultural Competence

  • Was able to talk generally about personal growth with study abroad or with an academic program serving immigrant communities
  • Was able to talk generally about personal growth with study abroad or with an academic program serving immigrant communities

Cultural Competence

  • Showed a rare perspective, having seen different cultural backgrounds on display, in a healthcare setting, as a genuine outsider

Teamwork

  • Saw multiple examples of teamwork while shadowing
  • Saw multiple examples of teamwork while shadowing

Teamwork

  • Saw an even wider range of teams within the hospital departments, with unique stories about doctors in Surgery versus doctors in Internal Medicine, for example

Oral Communication

  • Showed no/little practice with another language in a clinical setting
  • Showed no/little practice with another language in a clinical setting

Oral Communication

  • Talked passionately in their interview about communicating across the language barrier within the hospital; even though most doctors will speak English, there will be some language barrier some times

Resilience & Adaptability

  • Shadowed close to home in a familiar setting
  • Shadowed close to home in a familiar setting

Resilience & Adaptability

  • Stepped outside their comfort zone and managed lack of sleep or changes of plans, showing resilience with interesting travel stories

Note that some elements in the above only take place in certain programs e.g. multi-country experiences only happen in multi-country programs. Also, Atlantis programs do have far greater depth, breadth, quantity of shadowing, and degree of intercultural perspective, than the vast majority of clinical experiences that premeds have; however the examples above are illustrative of why that generally is, i.e. not all Atlantis participants have seen a certain exact type of surgery. Please see our many testimonials to obtain many perspectives on the program.

A basic table showing two comparison columns to indicate the benefits of 360 shadowing.

Compare A Typical Applicant With an Atlantis Alum

Compare A Typical Applicant With an Atlantis Alum

Med School Concern #1: Exposure to Healthcare

Average Applicant to Med School

Average Applicant to Med School

Typical/Possible Atlantis Alum

Depth

  • Surface-level
  • Surface-level

Depth

Breadth

  • 1-3 medical specialties
  • 1-3 medical specialties

Breadth

Quantity

  • Average quantity
  • Average quantity

Quantity

  • 50-200 hours in one school break
  • Concentrated
  • Time, energy, and academic focus saved by not having to find–and travel weekly to and from–a weekly 2 hour campus clinical experience, for instance

Intercultural Perspective

  • Shadowing/volunteering in one country, one cultural context, one regulatory environment
  • Shadowing/volunteering in one country, one cultural context, one regulatory environment

Intercultural Perspective

  • Shadowing in a new country, context, and environment (but at the same sophistication level as the US)

GPA/MCAT

  • Average stats; study time taken by inefficient extracurriculars
  • Average stats; study time taken by inefficient extracurriculars

GPA/MCAT

  • Such an intensive experience during breaks allows for the “luxury” of focusing on academics during the year

Stories

  • Ordinary stories for apps/interviews, fewer opportunities to develop competencies
  • Ordinary stories for apps/interviews, fewer opportunities to develop competencies

Stories

See a much deeper version of this table.

 

 

Have Your Student Ask His/Her Pre-Health Advisor About Us

Most pre-meds are in universities that have pre-health advisors, and more than 1 out of every 10 US pre-health advisors have visited an Atlantis program in person. Ask your student to ask his or her advisor for an opinion on Atlantis. If the advisor hasn’t visited our programs, encourage the advisor to reach out to their advisor peers at other universities asking about their opinion.

 

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

Students shadowing in the hospital.
Students shadowing in the hospital (Genoa, Italy, 2019).
View of the city street for students to explore.
View of the city street for students to explore in Barcelona, Spain (an Atlantis site).

3. Will Atlantis Help With Vocational Discernment?

Atlantis helps students envision their own future and determine where their passion lies – whether that is in medicine or not. The time will be well spent as they discern their vocation and develop confidence in their career path.

The reason medical schools value clinical experience (such as shadowing) in their admissions process is that it allows schools to know that their future students understand what they are getting themselves into and will be passionate about it. Similarly, parents and guardians want to ensure that their loved ones will have a career that they can be passionate about.

The more and the better the clinical experience that a pre-health student has, the more likely he or she is to make the right choice on whether or not to go into medicine or another healthcare path. The stakes are high, and we can understand the relationship between exposure and vocational clarity by looking at what happens when exposure to healthcare is not available. An article in the Journal of Surgical Research, recognizing that “the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a lack of in-person science courses and laboratories, reduced ability for face-to-face experiences in shadowing or volunteering, [etc.],” concluded that ” these changes may impact the next generation of medical students” since “this reduced ability for premedical students to experience the day-to-day interactions of a physician may lead to applicants with unrealistic expectations and contribute to the already high rate of physician burnout.” The implied lesson here is valid in post-pandemic times as well: the quality and quantity of healthcare exposure seems to go hand in hand with vocational clarity, higher job satisfaction, and lower burnout.

I participated in Atlantis when I was still trying to determine whether I wanted to commit to medicine as a career, and being able to immerse myself into different areas of a hospital for a large number of hours made me more excited about medicine and certain that it was the path I wanted to go down.

Zoey PetittAtlantis ’17U. of Arizona ’18, Duke MD ’23

Avoid Burnout:
First Clarify if Medicine is The Path For Your Student

A graphic representing 11%.

11%

In the words of one study, “approximately 11% of students have serious thoughts of dropping out of medical school each year.” These numbers suggest that severe burnout is not uncommon for medical students.

A graphic representing 81%.

81%

81% of alumni who have been accepted to med/PA school said Atlantis impacted their passion for medicine. Even among alumni who don’t attend medical school, we repeatedly hear that Atlantis helped them make the right decision.

PhD-Authored Study Shows Atlantis Alumni Progress on The Competencies that Medical Schools Seek

In a survey of over 1,000 Atlantis alumni, 93% of them believed they had progressed on the AAMC Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students, which are the traits that medical schools look for when making admissions decisions (view study data). These traits include adapting to stressful circumstances, interacting with people from diverse backgrounds, etc. You may also learn more about how Atlantis contributes to several of the 15 AAMC competencies by checking out our competencies page, or, more broadly by looking at how Atlantis impacts the actual medical school application, or later the interview, as part of the medical school admissions process, which many of our alumni have been successful at.

Students speaking in a hospital room.
Atlantis students speaking with a doctor while shadowing in the hospital (Genoa, Italy, 2019).

Although she has done volunteer work in hospitals in the U.S. for more than 3 years and has worked as a clinical researcher in one of the busiest ER departments in the country, none of her experiences were even remotely as valuable as her shadowing experience in Cuenca in terms of understanding the life of a doctor and whether she is meant for this endeavor.

I would like to attest to the legitimacy of this program, having served as a highly valuable and memorable experience to my child. We did not know what to expect, but were able to network before traveling with students across the nation who had already been to this program and found personal testimony of their experience to ease our minds.

I don’t know where to start with the compliments. Immediately, our son had the opportunity to shadow physicians and witness surgeries. The physicians were eager to teach and answer questions. Our son felt safe. The accommodations, transportation and hospital experiences were well organized and were overseen by a very attentive site manager.

The city of Lisbon.
The city of Lisbon, Portugal (an Atlantis site).

4. Is Atlantis Worth The Cost?

As an organization, we prioritize building programs with long-term professional value for our students. Atlantis can be an investment in their future success in medical school and beyond.

Parents and guardians often see Atlantis as an alternative to typical summer study abroad programs, since Atlantis allows for both (1)a study abroad experience as well as (2)a particularly powerful clinical experience, for the price of one.

Anyone Can Do It

Atlantis can be a career investment just like college, and we offer payment plans, financing, and aid options to help make participation possible. Our team works with you and your student to find a program that fits your budget. The below chart shows some examples of how students could combine several funding sources to pay for one Atlantis program. Each of these approaches to funding is detailed in our financing & aid page.

A chart showing that anyone can afford Atlantis with fundraising.

What About College Credit?

Atlantis programs develop most of the key competencies for entering medical students, contribute to assessing vocation, and play a role in Med/PA applications and interviews. This is why our alumni are often successful. This type of learning experience is often recognizable for credit, depending on the approach of your student’s university. Atlantis doesn’t award credit directly, but alumni are often able to receive credit from their universities for it anyway. Read more about support for requesting course credit.

A student learning how to surf.
An Atlantis student learning how to surf on a program excursion (Lisbon, Portugal, 2019).

Compare Standard Break Opportunities with Atlantis

Standard Break Options Possible Advantages of Atlantis Over Each Option
Volunteer in a Low-to-Middle-Income Country
(sometimes doing hands-on work with patients,
which can result in automatic rejection by med schools)
Do observation-only shadowing (AAMC compliant),
interacting closely with doctors who have jobs
more similar to those in the U.S. Add a diverse perspective
to your future medical school class, since pre-med international
experience in Europe is more rare
Study abroad in a non-healthcare-related program Make study abroad a major help for your pre-med path,
instead of something that does not contribute directly to your goals
Work to earn money Shadow for a few weeks and work
the rest of break – keeping in mind how valuable the investment
is and the available payment plans you have
Shadow domestically Supplement domestic experiences with shadowing in Europe
in order to gain depth, breadth, quantity of hours
, and intercultural perspective
Research Get clinical experience – required by all med/PA schools,
whereas research is usually not required. For schools that do not require
research, great healthcare exposure beats research,
if you have to choose.

Take this as just one set of reasons. Any option on the left is a fair and reasonable option for certain circumstances. However, we are seeking to equip you with data you can use to make the decision that is best for you.

5. Can You Tell Me About The Legitimacy Of Atlantis?

We have 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. Read more on our extensive about us page.

I was impressed by the organization of the program and the enthusiastic welcome from the hospitals and physicians. Atlantis is run in an extremely ethical manner, and it is clear that the students have the opportunity to benefit enormously from their experiences. Atlantis provides an ethical and safe opportunity for students to explore their interests in medicine, and to experience health care systems that are different from those in the United States.

Seth Ramus headshot.
Seth J. Ramus, PhD.

Director of Health Professions Advising

Bowdoin College

Pre-health advisors are constantly looking for valuable opportunities to share with our students and this is hands-down one to recommend. As we become a more global society, it is important that students experience global medicine.

Lauren Albaum headshot.
Lauren Albaum

Science and Pre-Health Career and Internship Coordinator

Florida Southern College

I could not have been more impressed with Atlantis, and their staff. I have never before witnessed host hospitals so excited to be working with pre-med students. The quality, combination of experiences, and intention of the program is so evident…Atlantis comes with my highest recommendation, and I look forward to a long working relationship and many student group trips in the future.

Brenna Dunlap headshot.
Brenna Dunlap

Healthcare Programs Director

Eastern Oregon University

Our university had a fantastic experience with Atlantis in Lisbon, Portugal. Our 11 students were able to shadow some major surgeries at their hospital and could easily spend hours talking about their experiences. All of the Atlantis staff were very welcome and helpful, especially our on-site manager—he was always there to lead us around and to troubleshoot. We will definitely be reaching out to Atlantis for future clinical experiences!

Krista Rogers headshot.
Krista Rogers, M.A.

Program Coordinator, Enrichment Programs

University of Connecticut

I visited Atlantis in June, and we traveled to three sites near Madrid, including Zaragoza and Toledo. I think my favorite from a tourist perspective was Toledo, and I also like the housing there for students. From a clinical perspective, I liked Zaragoza, as the doctors there were very accommodating, and it was large with lots of medical specialties. Madrid was also interesting, being a large capital city, and the central point for students when they arrive for their orientation, which was very well planned.

Bill Wingard headshot.
Bill Wingard

Lead Advisor, Career Services Center

UC San Diego

Working with Atlantis and creating our first customized short-term program for our Pre-med students was very rewarding for me and my students. Atlantis staff is very detail oriented and will make this process as smooth as possible…I am happy with our partnership and I look forward to more ideas and ways to give our pre-med students opportunities to experience hospital shadowing in their field.

Maria Richart headshot.
Maria J. Richart

Associate Director for International Outreach

Rochester Institute of Technology

The opportunities Atlantis has created for our students at the University of Arizona are amazing. With almost 9,000 Pre-Health students, we have a tremendous need for programming and Atlantis has created a niche for these students to not only study abroad, but gain experience shadowing in European hospitals. The students were provided an incredible experience this first summer in Toledo and Zaragoza and we look forward to sending more students on Atlantis programs in the future.

Katie Van Wyk headshot.
Katie Van Wyk

Study Abroad Coordinator

University of Arizona

During a recent visit to Atlantis sites in Spain, I had the opportunity to visit several clinical locations where students shadow. The clinical facilities were impressive but more impressive was the dedication to teaching that I observed among the clinical staff. This is a high-quality shadowing opportunity that adheres strictly to the AAMC guidelines and provides students with different experiences than they are likely to have in the US.

Karen Palin headshot.
Karen A. Palin, PhD

Department of Biology

Bates College

Cover of the Medical School Admissions Guide.

Two Atlantis alumni admitted to the Harvard Medical School MD and Stanford School of Medicine MD programs wrote our widely read medical school admissions guidebook — download yours.

Better, Concentrated Healthcare Exposure Lets Pre-Meds Focus on Grades,
While Still Increasing Relevant Experience for Interviews

A chart demonstrating how Atlantis students have more time to focus on grades.

There is very little in your premedical coursework which actually prepares you for the difficult task of taking care of sick people.

Columbia University Pre-med Advising(This is not an endorsement)

Each interview is different, but it’s common to be asked, “Why do you want to be a doctor?” To answer, you may want to tell a story about an experience or series of experiences that have led to your decision.

AAMC(This is not an endorsement)

6. What about safety?

Safety is our Priority

The safety of our students is one of the things we talk about most. Not only are we selective about placement locations to seek for a lower-risk environment, but we also train our on-program Site Managers prior to every program year. Site Managers seek to be available 24/7 to students, should students need assistance.

We provide each student with travel health insurance, as well as a phone (or phone access) so that they are more likely to be able to call in the unlikely event of an emergency. To learn more about best practices for safe travel, make sure to sign up for the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) administered by the US Department of State.

We monitor CDC guidelines, partner hospital directives, and other sources to determine the best course of action regarding safety precautions. Our travel health insurance plan is active during the duration of the program, covering medical expenses due to accidents, sickness, and specifically COVID-19. Benefits also include emergency medical evacuation.

As with any program and with every country, including the U.S., students should exercise caution and prudence, and know that their own decisions will also play a large role in lowering risks and keeping them safe.

Summer 2019 Site Managers going through safety training before the summer season.
Summer 2019 Site Managers going through safety training before the summer season.

Safety in Europe vs. the U.S.

Students traveling abroad should responsibly exercise caution. However, the European countries in which we have programs are generally as safe or safer than the US. We invite parents to search the Global Peace Index Ratings for their student’s host country. This does not mean that there are no risks (and students should be prudent), but it does mean that, as a whole, European countries have lower risks of crime, for instance.

a map detailing the global peace index of the world.
Source: https://www.visionofhumanity.org/maps/

After visiting a few of the sites, and speaking with students, administrators, and participating physicians, I’m very comfortable recommending Atlantis to our students. They are very aware of, and follow, ethical guidelines, which is important for any program our students may choose to go on. It’s a flexible, mutually beneficial way for students to get shadowing experience at the same time as learning about a healthcare system different from their own.

Christine Richmond, M.Ed.Academic Advisor, Pre-Health AdvisorUniversity of Florida

Foreign Language Skills Not Required

Almost all Atlantis alumni have not spoken the local language. Most doctors in most places speak enough English for the language barrier to not hinder the experience. When there is a language barrier, such barrier will push most students out of their comfort zone, which fosters resilience & adaptability (AAMC competency #8).

Moreover, such limited language barrier experiences will be nothing compared with what many of our students’ post-medical-school patients in the U.S. (e.g. immigrants) will experience. Overcoming the any limited language barrier issues is crucial for building your cultural competence (AAMC competency #3), being able to relate to your future patients, growing in oral communication skills (AAMC competency #5), and also having compelling stories for your applications and interviews.

Authoring Guidelines in the Field

Atlantis co-authored, with the Forum on Education Abroad, the leading non-profit representing the study abroad world in the U.S., the Guidelines for Undergraduate Health-Related Experiences Abroad. These are the general principles that all healthcare study abroad programs are invited to follow.

Guidelines for Undergraduate Health Title Page.
Guidelines for Undergraduate Health Title Page.

Europe vs. the US

Another interesting element of going to Europe as a future healthcare professional is to understand their healthcare system. This is very often a talking point that our alumni use in their medical school applications.

Note that this doesn’t necessarily mean one system is better than the other as there are many other factors at play here. In fact, we believe that the ideal outcome is when alumni can clearly articulate the many pros and cons of Europeans systems. This is the sort of maturity and perspective that very few entering medical students have on this crucial question of healthcare systems and healthcare costs, and we believe is one of the reasons many of our alumni fare so well in the medical admissions process.

Compare healthcare costs and life expectancies between countries in Europe and the United States below, to see how shadowing in Europe can provide valuable healthcare experience.

7. Download Parent Guide

Download the below, a quick reference guide on program value, safety, and logistics.

8. Relevant Videos

Watch The Atlantis
Experience

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

9. FAQs

Is shadowing abroad actually useful, since I’ll be practicing in the U.S.?

Yes, Atlantis is designed for American undergraduate students who plan to enter med/PA schools here in the U.S. and later practice here as well. Ideally, Atlantis complements rather than replaces U.S. shadowing. It’s worth the experience to shadow (and do other forms of clinical experience) domestically, however, our alumni consistently report that here in the U.S. they were exposed to less complex procedures (less depth), saw far fewer specialties and far fewer doctors (less breadth), struggled to get a large number of hours at once (less quantity), and finally, didn’t experience the intercultural dimension nearly as strongly as they did by going abroad. Atlantis’ quality of shadowing also helps remove pressure to do time-consuming extracurriculars and focus instead on grades (one of the biggest pain points for busy pre-health students), and also allows students to refine and highlight AAMC competencies both in applications and interviews. Read more here: Why 360 Shadowing?

What’s included?

Other programs offer credit (although universities still have to approve it) – why doesn’t Atlantis?

Our approach is different from most programs for a few reasons. Universities have to approve credit anyway in order for it to count, so we spend our efforts maximizing the educational value of our programs rather than managing the administrative work of issuing credit. This allows us to keep costs lower than they would be otherwise, and to offer more flexible dates and options that fit with other summer opportunities. It’s also worth noting that most of our alumni do not request credit for Atlantis from their university, generally having enough credits from their classes already – it’s often not worth the extra expense for them. If you do require credit, you can often request it from your university; please check out: Support for Requesting Course Credit.

What is a typical day of shadowing like?

Though the daily schedule varies by program, most Atlantis students shadow for 5 hours per day, Monday through Thursday, beginning at 8 or 9 am. After shadowing, there is plenty of free time to enjoy, whether at the housing, in the city, or at a group dinner. Fridays are excursion days, and weekends are free to rest, explore the city, or travel. Read more here: How It Works > Day in the Life.

How will the language barrier impact my experience?

Almost all Atlantis alumni have not spoken the local language. Most doctors in most places speak enough English for the language barrier to not hinder the experience. When there is a language barrier, such barrier will push most students out of their comfort zone, which fosters resilience & adaptability (AAMC competency #8). Moreover, such limited language barrier experiences will be nothing compared with what many of our students’ post-medical-school patients in the U.S. (e.g. immigrants) will experience. Overcoming the any limited language barrier issues is crucial for building your cultural competence (AAMC competency #3), being able to relate to your future patients, growing in oral communication skills (AAMC competency #5), and also having compelling stories for your applications and interviews.

How will Atlantis help me when I’m writing applications or doing interviews?

So many ways! To start, Atlantis helps you answer the question: why have you chosen to study medicine? You’ll be writing from a unique perspective, with an even greater enthusiasm for medicine. The time you spent observing doctors abroad, taking note of differences in healthcare, seeing the ins and outs of multiple departments, watching important surgeries, and stepping outside your comfort zone – all of that will furnish ample material for your essays and interviews. Here in our website you can read more concretely about Atlantis’ impact on the interviews and on the application itself. Here are some advantages you may have from a medical school (or similar) admissions perspective, as an Atlantis alum (these are some of the reasons many of our alumni have been successful at medical school admissions and other healthcare graduate school applications):

  • Other candidates have done some shadowing; you have done lots.
  • Other candidates have seen healthcare in one country, you in two or more.
  • Other candidates have seen three specialties; you may have seen seven or eight.
  • Other candidates might have shadowed two or three doctors; you might have shadowed ten or fifteen.
  • Other candidates say they see medicine as service; you have actually spent time with doctors in countries where medical salaries are relatively lower, and where service is a stronger motivator behind the healthcare profession.
  • Other candidates say they have an intercultural perspective in healthcare because they shadowed in a diverse U.S. setting (e.g. inner-city or rural); you may have a deeper intercultural perspective because you shadowed in a different country (which, unlike the diverse U.S. setting, has far more cultural differences relative to what you’re used to).
  • Other candidates say they are passionate about policies for affordable care; you have seen what a more government-run healthcare looks like and can speak maturely about its many pros and cons.
  • Other candidates can speculate on what it’s like to be a surgeon; you have seen several surgeries.

Read more here: Comparing an Atlantis alum with a regular pre-med in a med school interview.

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