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Study Abroad Guidelines for Pre-Health Students
Pre-Health professions students who are interested in studying abroad face logistical challenges in planning, but studying abroad is a very valuable experience and should be given full consideration. Most students go abroad during their junior year, but for pre-health professions students, this might result in a delay in the application to professional school. If a student studies abroad during their junior year, they may need to finish science coursework during their senior year after returning from abroad, and thus taking the MCAT/DAT/PCAT in the spring of their senior year. There's no harm in delaying application a year or two. This later application may be particularly suitable for students who want to improve their academic or experiential credentials or who believe that a year between undergraduate work and professional school will benefit their personal and professional goals. You may also not want to study abroad during your last year of college, since this could impact your availability for medical school interviews.
You may wish to consider one of these alternatives:
Many premedical students have successfully traveled abroad while maintaining a difficult curricular and extracurricular load at MU. Keep in mind that it can be done, and that studying abroad is a wonderful experience that medical schools appreciate. Study abroad students should consult with their pre-health professions advisor to determine timing of their medical school application, given their major and these other factors.
How should I start?
During your freshman year, you should identify the programs that appeal to you and clarify how you can fit study abroad into your four-year schedule in consultation with your academic advisor, your pre-health professions advisor, and the Study Abroad office. By the end of your freshman year you should know where and when you would like to study abroad and how and when you should apply.
Visit MU’s Study Abroad office: http://international.missouri.edu/studyabroad/
Biology majors may wish to visit: http://www.biology.missouri.edu/undergrad/studyabroad.shtml
CAFNR students may wish to visit: http://cafnr.missouri.edu/study-abroad/
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I take my premedical science classes while abroad?
While many medical schools look favorably upon applicants who have studied abroad, they also prefer applicants to complete their core science courses (introductory biology, introductory chemistry, organic chemistry, and introductory physics) at their home institutions; this is important to keep in mind when planning the courses you will take while abroad. These courses should be taken at U.S. institutions to ensure you have covered topics you will encounter on the MCAT and/or have the appropriate prerequisite course(s) for any upper-division courses you plan to take.
Can I take my premedical science classes over the summer in order to study abroad?
Although in general we discourage students from taking summer sciences (because some medical schools do as well…), in certain circumstances, it may be justified in order for you to accomplish other academic goals. This decision should be discussed individually with your pre-health professions advisor.
Can I take the MCAT while abroad?
While there are some international sites which administer the MCAT, you should think carefully about whether you really want to make the commitment to undertake MCAT preparation while abroad. This might take away from the overall study abroad experience.
Am I expected to participate in health-care related experiences while abroad?
You are not expected to work in a healthcare facility while abroad; however, it is a good idea to spend some time learning about the healthcare system in the country you are visiting. You might arrange to visit a hospital or clinic or to speak with a local physician. Some students have been able to arrange volunteer experiences while abroad in local hospitals or clinics.