Putting your medical degree to use overseas – part one

Eye-opening hospital work experience
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If you are looking to put your medical degree to work overseas, you should know there are innumerable opportunities available worldwide

There are an estimated 3 billion people in different areas of the developing world who do not have access to even the most basic healthcare. That’s approximately 50% of the world’s total population. With a global shortage of health workers in a world where medical needs are ever-increasing, international volunteers and healthcare professionals are in high demand. Whether you are a medical student, recent graduate or a professional in any health-science field, you can make a direct impact on people’s lives around the world, through a number of overseas placement opportunities.

A student taking a patient's blood pressure in a Tanzanian hospital. Why go overseas to work on an international health project?

Thousands of medical students and healthcare professionals from across all specialties participate in international health projects every year. Most of these projects involve improve health care in third world countries. It’s hard work usually under harsh conditions. So why do so many students and professionals sign up for these when they could just practice their profession in their own home countries?

There are several compelling reasons that motivate individuals across all streams to take up the challenge of international healthcare. 

While all international health projects undeniably make an enormous impact in countries where resources are severely lacking, the other side of the coin is that they also offer tremendous benefits for individuals who take the opportunity to get involved. Several studies that have been done at various universities show that international medical work creates more confident and competent healthcare workers, who often bring a greater sense of purpose and humanism to their practices once they return home.

The challenge of working in countries where healthcare facilities and equipment are lacking can do much to develop an individual’s creativity, resourcefulness and ingenuity. Many studies have shown that relatively easy access to modern medical technology in the developed world can sometimes encourage a certain degree of apathy and laziness when it comes to the rigorous examination of clinical problems.

Knowledge of international medicine has also become increasingly important in the United Kingdom, as globalisation advances and more and more individuals travel to destinations unheard of before. Healthcare workers in the UK often face the challenging task of diagnosing and treating citizens who have travelled abroad, as well as new immigrants with foreign diseases not commonly seen in the rest of the population in the UK. International placements will help broaden your experience and make you better equipped to deal with health care challenges back at home.

Increasing medical needs combined with the distinct shortage of qualified health workers in the developing world has created a high demand for international volunteers and medical professionals. This experience will hold you in good stead when it comes to gaining employment anywhere in the world at any time in the future. 

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