Building medical competency abroad – why AMSA students are going on international exchange

Medical students in Australia are showing an increased interest in participating in international medical training, and AMSA is meeting the need with the SCOPE exchange program – an international collaboration between AMSA and universities in the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA). AMSA students have a myriad of reasons for wanting to go on exchange – from personal growth to providing community service – and we’ve collected some of their main motivators below.

  1. High-quality training opportunities

International collaboration and the exchange of medical expertise is fundamental to high-quality medical care, training and research. Also, with increasing global mobility, Australian physicians are will be expected to know more about disease areas that have public health implications worldwide. AMSA SCOPE exchange students have a unique opportunity to learn about international health at some of of the best universities in the world. Pursing exchanges in Germany, Korea or Switzerland (just to name a few!), our students have the opportunity to study at some of the most prestigious hospitals world-wide. The knowledge they gather there can be applied to their studies upon their return.

  1. The challenge

Travelling internationally can be difficult on its own, and undertaking medical training while doing so is even more challenging. International trainees must adapt to their host country’s teaching and working styles; learn to be understanding of unfamiliar cultural customs; and practice in an environment with a foreign language as well. Students must face these obstacles while simultaneously learning new medical procedures and treatments in disease areas that they may have had little exposure before. This environment creates students who are both flexible and resilient – qualities that will serve them well in their post-graduate training and future medical careers.

  1. Gaining a better understanding of healthcare systems

In medical school, there is typically limited teaching that focuses on developing an understanding of the broad healthcare system. Students often graduate without a strong understanding of how the Australian system is designed or implemented, and importantly, how it compares to other systems around the world. Training abroad offers students a unique opportunity to experience how healthcare systems work in other countries, whether they are public, private or, like Australia, a combination of the two.

  1. Putting things in perspective

AMSA SCOPE exchanges offers wide variety of exchange experiences, from large hospitals in metropolitan areas to rural hospitals with more limited resources. Regardless, students who train abroad have the opportunity to learn how other hospitals and systems prioritize resource allocation, putting into perspective the resources available to us in the Australian healthcare system. Often, students who train abroad not only come back with a greater interest in international public health but also a strong commitment to serving the underserved.

If you’re interested in going on exchange for the 2019/2020 season, be sure to contact your AMSA Local Exchange Officer to learn more:

University of Western Australia:

Jonathan La –

University of Melbourne:

Warwick Cann –

Jeffrey Zi Zhe –

University of New South Wales:

Leo Coleman –

By Megan Smith-Uffen
National Exchange Officer, AMSA Global Health

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