We get questions centered around international electives a lot. Whether it is a few weeks in India, Guatemala or Peru, international trips and electives can have a powerful impact on your medical school application. However, it’s not always a cut and dry situation. You should think carefully about what impact it will have, is it worth the cost of attending the program, and also how the trip may play into the rest of your application.
The worst thing that can happen is that an international elective becomes a negative on your application. You may be wondering how that can be, but it certainly has the potential to. Think about the applicant who grows up in rich town, attends an Ivy League school and suddenly decides his application doesn’t feature enough “volunteer” work. So he/she pays a few thousand dollars to go on a 1 week “medical tourism trip”. He/she has never done any other volunteering, never shown an interest in helping the underprivileged and instead is hoping this trip will make up for the lack of compassion shown thus far. Well, it will not. In fact, it may make things worst. Medical school admissions committees can see through the clutter of an application and if your experience is genuine or just an application filler.
Now the above may seem negative, but it’s just a warning. In reality, international trips can be spectacular learning experiences when it comes to medicine and life in general. Our recommendations are to do the following:
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