Medical school // Outreach medicine abroad?


Original Post
Medic741 · · Red Hook, New York · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 265

Hey there, I'll be starting medical school in the summer, and am currently wait listed a bunch of places and accepted at Saint Georges University, so there's a good chance will be headed to the Caribbean for the next 2 years.

If that happens, I want to get involved with international outreach medicine during summers and breaks to a) contribute to the global community, and b) have something that sets me apart when it comes to the Match.

If you know someone who knows someone who does outreach medicine abroad that would be interested in having a medical student help out, I pack a lot of experience in EMS (7 years total, 3 as a paramedic), research (clinical and micro, currently learning genomics), and am very comfortable living in developing parts of the world. Also fluent in Spanish and spent 9 months traveling/climbing in Patagonia and 5 months in Spain.

Thought it was worth a shot because I know there are a lot of medical folks, and well, we're all climbers here!

If you have any ideas, shoot me a PM and I will be very thankful for any thoughts.

-Matt

Rich zz · · california · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 180

don't go to med school. you're going to waste 10 years of your life and half a million dollars. there are better ways to make money. there are better ways to help people.

tshapiro1182 · · Carpinteria, CA · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 0

Met a guy who was doing 2 months in Thakek Laos recently. He was at the provincial hospital and climbed every weekend at the awesome Green Climbers' Home.

I think most of the international outreach there was German but it would be worth a look...

Other places that might be worth considering: Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Cat Ba, Kampot, Cantabaco

Mateo San Pedro · · OR · Joined Apr 2011 · Points: 280
Rich zz wrote:don't go to med school. you're going to waste 10 years of your life and half a million dollars. there are better ways to make money. there are better ways to help people.
Fuck this advice. I'm an ER doctor. It's great. It's was a challenge and involved a ton of hard work so make sure you really want to do it but don't take some random person's advice on the internet who shits on your goals. Seriously Rich? Why don't you go be helpful yourself instead of telling someone their goal is a waste of time.

Good luck with your endeavors! Consider Emergency Medicine!
Brian Shaffer · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 40
Rich zz wrote:don't go to med school. you're going to waste 10 years of your life and half a million dollars. there are better ways to make money. there are better ways to help people.
What a dumb thing to say.

If you really want to set yourself apart for the match, (get ready this is going to be painful) find a way to add in a PhD.
T. Maino · · Denver, CO · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 5

Agree. Med school painful, but the best thing I ever did!

Optimistic · · New Paltz · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 300

When you say "match" I assume you're talking about the match for residency? If so I'd stop thinking that far out and focus either on just doing a volunteer opportunity that's really meaningful to you, or on doing some time-intensive and possibly fun thing that you're not going to be able to do during the bare minimum of 7 years of training you have ahead of you.

I say that because unless you have a crystal ball, the chances of you choosing a specialty in 3 years that is a good fit for whatever volunteer experience you choose now are vanishingly small. If you go for ER or ID, international medicine volunteering might tell a great story, but it doesn't fit so well for urology. Just being super psyched on whatever it is is a safer bet than trying to have a particular story about why you should be in a particular residency down the road, unless you already know with absolute certainty, just prior to a massive life-changing experience, what you're going to specialize in.

If you really want to do something to boost your chances in the match, on day 1 of medical school start looking around for students in the upper years who can tell you how studying in medical school really works, so you can honor all your classes. Don't waste time and suffering figuring it out for yourself like I did!

One other thing to consider: international work is a little complicated. A lot of international groups these days think of their mission as supplying specific training expertise to strengthen already-established medical systems, as opposed to going in and actually seeing patients in those countries. The safety net in your own country appears to be about to get stressed in a very big way; you might consider volunteering opportunities close to home as well.

I'd respectfully disagree with the once-size-fits-all advice on getting a phd. If you end up as a rural OB/GYN, that may not necessarily be a good use of your time. You seem like you have a lot of EMS background: there are a bunch of EM specific fellowships that would probably get you a lot farther in that field than a phd will. Just as a couple of examples. If you're really digging the genomics, on the other hand...

Good luck!

SMarsh · · NY, NY · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 3

Listen to Mateo the ER doc and Optimistic.

And realize that not everyone is going to agree with your choice of how to best change something in this world, no matter what you do or say.

Best wishes,

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 265

PM sent yesterday.:-)

Brian Shaffer · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 40

Weird discussion for a climbing website.

The problem w international students, to be blunt, is that even w good grades people will question the meaning of that value given the school is an unknown quality.

You of course want to score very well on the USMLE but if we assume you will try your hardest in school this is an unmodifiable factor as you'll get the best score you can get.

It's all about choices and retaining your ability to have them. If you have some interest in biomedical research expanding this experience will significantly improve your ability to do well in finding a residency. There are some very meaningful careers in medicine that do not have competitive residencies. But again the more competitive you make yourself the more choices you have.

I say this having actually participated in the selection process you are describing.

Anyways all this makes it sound so stressful. It was for me but the match process is also a lot of fun. And medicine is a great career despite all the haters. Good luck & welcome.

Optimistic · · New Paltz · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 300
brian9 wrote:Weird discussion for a climbing website. The problem w international students, to be blunt, is that even w good grades people will question the meaning of that value given the school is an unknown quality. You of course want to score very well on the USMLE but if we assume you will try your hardest in school this is an unmodifiable factor as you'll get the best score you can get. It's all about choices and retaining your ability to have them. If you have some interest in biomedical research expanding this experience will significantly improve your ability to do well in finding a residency. There are some very meaningful careers in medicine that do not have competitive residencies. But again the more competitive you make yourself the more choices you have. I say this having actually participated in the selection process you are describing. Anyways all this makes it sound so stressful. It was for me but the match process is also a lot of fun. And medicine is a great career despite all the haters. Good luck & welcome.
Brian is right that you'll have to work a little harder to prove yourself coming from St George's, but I've seen people come out of there and end up with very competitive slots. Hard work and patience can overcome a lot.
Medic741 · · Red Hook, New York · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 265

It was a long shot, but hey something those pay off. This one, not so much. Thanks Dr. Mateo! I'm excited to one day live near the mountains!

And the willingness to go Caribbean is because of how competitive slots are for MD & DO stateside. Acceptance rates are ~1-2% at each school. I'm willing to take a $250k bet that I'm smart enough/hard working enough to make it work for me. Having had some amazing experiences as a paramedic, there's really nothing I can dream of doing with my life other than EM or IM/CC. Fingers crossed for the rest of the app cycle.

Thanks for the encouraging words to the docs out there

Old Lady H, I got your PM and I'll get back to you tomorrow when I have a moment!

caesar.salad · · earth · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 85
Rich zz wrote:don't go to med school. you're going to waste 10 years of your life and half a million dollars. there are better ways to make money. there are better ways to help people.
This. I went to med school and graduated and hated every minute. BUT if you already have been in medicine and you like it, go for it. Don't let other people convince you otherwise. My family are the only reason I didn't drop out first semester and I spent several years miserable as a result.

BTW, try to hold out for a school in the COTUS. It makes a difference come match time. It's lame but its true.
Medic741 · · Red Hook, New York · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 265

Thank GOD. Got into a US medical school. Went climbing to celebrate... found that my lead head is completely *gone*. Sigh, hope that comes back soon.

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 265

Yay! Congrats!

Lemme know if you are still interested in my doctor friend for a contact.

Best, Helen

Clayton Rardon · · Yucca Valley, CA · Joined Jan 2003 · Points: 270

I realize it's a looooong way off, but in your 4th year look at the Emergency Wilderness Medicine rotation at UNM in Albuquerque... it was one of the most fun academic programs I've ever done. Their faculty are amazing, their curriculum varied and well planned, and the 4th years students and PGY1s were phenomenal classmates!

Optimistic · · New Paltz · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 300
Medic741 wrote:Thank GOD. Got into a US medical school. Went climbing to celebrate... found that my lead head is completely *gone*. Sigh, hope that comes back soon.
Congratulations and good luck!

Free advice: if you're struggling with something, whether it's histopathology (ie academics) or suturing (ie procedures), ask someone who is good at it to find out how it works. People who seem like they are instantly good at it probably know something you don't, as opposed to being naturally good at it.
webdog · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 0

If you're interested in wilderness medicine then Dr. Seth Hawkins is a great resource.. Each year there is a month long residency program in NC. The residents go through search and rescue with local teams at Linville Gorge

Chris C. · · Seattle, WA · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 251
Rich zz wrote:don't go to med school. you're going to waste 10 years of your life and half a million dollars. there are better ways to make money. there are better ways to help people.
I hope that neither you nor anybody in your family ever visits a doctor so you can stand by this bullshit claim.

Congrats to the OP!
Jimmy Downhillinthesnow · · Bozeman, Montana · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 10

Congrats, I'm finishing up my 2nd year of med school in Boston and love it. I have an EMS background as well (ski patroller out west) and am happy I decided to go this route. First and second year (at my school anyway) are very flexible with plenty of time for climbing. I was able to get outside at least once a week weather permitting since I started.

Best of luck.

T. Maino · · Denver, CO · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 5

Congrats! Git sum!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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