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|
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.
- Atlantis '17
- U. of Arizona '18
- Duke MD '23
- Atlantis '17
- Yale '19
- UCSF MD '23
- Atlantis '17
- Brown '13
- Columbia MD '23
- Atlantis '16
- Amherst '19
- Columbia MD '24
- Atlantis '16
- Notre Dame '17
- Case Western MD '21
- Atlantis '16
- UMD College Park '17
- Michigan MPH '21 + MD '22
- Atlantis '17
- Stanford '19
- Mayo Clinic MD '24
- Atlantis '16
- NC State '15
- UNC Chapel Hill MD '22
- Atlantis '17
- UM-Ann Arbor '18
- Kimmel MD '23
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.
Alternatively, See a More In-Depth Version of The Above Table
Compare A Typical Applicant With an Atlantis Alum
Watch Video: 20+ Alumni Now In Med School
Explain: Atlantis Is a Major Reason I Got In Here
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Better, Concentrated Healthcare Exposure Lets Pre-Meds Focus on Grades,
While Still Increasing Relevant Experience for Interviews
There is very little in your premedical coursework which actually prepares you for the difficult task of taking care of sick people.
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.
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.
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.
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.
8. Relevant Videos
Watch The Atlantis
20+ Alumni Now In Med School Explain: Atlantis Is a Major Reason I Got In Here
Is shadowing abroad actually useful, since I’ll be practicing in the U.S.?
Other programs offer credit (although universities still have to approve it) – why doesn’t Atlantis?
What is a typical day of shadowing like?
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?
- 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.