by Mario Villani
The medical studies are just the beginning of a long training that usually never ends, since doctors and obviously future doctors are in a status of perpetual training. Thus, collecting practical experiences as well as theoretical skills, seems like never being enough.
If you can recognize yourself in one of those students then once our bullets of the Erasmus student mobility, the Erasmus Placement mobility and the IFMSA clerkships are gone, the last chance to get an exchange is obviously the Visiting Student status.
The visiting student status requires some more time since the main rule is that you need to find the contacts and apply to a foreign school by your own. Moreover, in order to leave your home institution, (freezing your curriculum and in the same time enrol temporary in another institution) might take some more bureaucratic steps than you normally would have been dealing with during the Erasmus.
In order to make a simple list and tell you the most important steps I must advice you that those might change from institution to institution, so in the end you should check it out by your own if what you did is actually enough or you need some more papers.
We will divide the steps into two parts, before to go, and ready to go.
Before you go
Our academic Erasmus coordinator -usually a professor of our school- is the main figure who is supposed to help us, giving us a list of partner schools who already accepted bilateral agreements between our faculty and another one in a foreign country. The agreements are usually blocked and reserved for the Erasmus mobility but it often happens that they accept numerous students over the official number. If you are not interested in one these medical schools between these agreements or your application requests to all of them were rejected, we pass to the next step.
You sit with your laptop and start searching for medical schools worldwide or even beyond the European border, mailing every central secretary or deanery.
Editors note: A good place to find medical schools in Europe is of course MastersPortal.com!
If you are lucky enough find traces of a section in a website dedicated to the foreign students or just exactly for visiting students (typical case for many institutions in UK) then life will be easier and it is enough following their step by step forms and of course all their rules.
If you are a clinical student, then you should know that some of your professors might already be in contact with other colleagues abroad. They can be a great opportunity to establish a contact and recommend you as a visiting student. Once the contact is found and done you usually still have to follow the steps and rules Ive been writing about.
It is surely superfluous to remind you that doing one of these experiences abroad in a department you are interested to work in, in not such a remote future, makes you gaining strong points in your CV in gain some extra points when you compete with other applicants for a placement, later!
At this point is important mentioning that your target must always be an official letter of acceptance! You should not go anywhere (well, lets be clear, you can! I would not though) if you do not get an acceptance letter before, since this letter will be included in your cursus studiorum and eventually in your CV once you are graduated.
Many institutions may ask for you to provide:
- A vaccination records form
- A certificate proving that you attended a medical school for X years
- A recommendation letter from your dean and some professors (ask your coordinator!)
- A transcript of your previous record
- TOEFL, IELTS, or other certificate of languages according to the language spoken in a certain country
- It is not uncommon that they ask fees and enrolling taxes which are not covered by the tour school (as it is the case for the Erasmus).
Will your school recognise what you have done abroad?
If you are going to ask for your school to recognize some ECTS of examinations or practical courses you intend to attend abroad then you need the permission and the signature of your academic coordinator, usually the same professor who is also coordination the exchange. He is the person in charge to compare what you have done there and compare and maybe confirm your work abroad with the one you should have done in your school. In other words you have to prepare a Learning Agreement before you leave just like the one used in the Erasmus mobility (without the part of the signature of the Institutional Coordinators, who in this case obviously does not exist).
Then, ideally you send your readily signed Learning Agreement already together with the other enrolment documents (letter of acceptance, housing form etc.) to your partner university.
And once this is done you are ready to go!
PS.: In the case you just dont give a thing about your school to recognize what you did there in your visiting student year but you just want some additional experience (to put in your CV). Thats possible and you can just skip the learning agreement step.