Exchange Opportunities for Medical Students Student experiences

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by Mario Villani

The medical students aren’t different from the others from the point of view of the exchange opportunities, they should actually never stop experiencing and learning just as the Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP) claims.

The Erasmus project according to my experience and from what I get the most from my colleagues is the first step that usually a medical student faces in Europe. After this if you still wish to continue your education abroad you should know there are many ways and grants behind the corner!

Let’s start:

IFMSA Clerkship

IFMSA means International Federation of Medical Students' Associations which is a nongovernmental organization representing associations of medical students. It was founded in May 1951, and currently maintains 102 National Member Organizations from 95 countries across six continents. Every year organizes a project called Clerkship (work and research), where you can apply and get a training summer (mostly summer but in many countries you might apply for other months) in one of the member state and cities where the local association is present with a delegation.

No grants are available but accommodation and lunches in working days are usually provided by the hosting institution.

You should also know that the universities are usually not involved and you might be directed to any hospital in the world. It might happen, however, that you are directed to a university hospital.

For more information you should find the IFMSA association that is the closest to your university. You can apply for it at any year of your medical education until the graduation.

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LLP ERASMUS Project

Well, I don’t think that this project requires any introduction!

It is the easiest way to leave your university for a while since usually in all the schools the application forms are well advertised and your home university takes care of the most part of the bureaucratic stuff, and even allows you to spend part of your academic career abroad. What to do and other tips are well discussed in another article. You can apply for it only once.

LLP ERASMUS Placement

The Erasmus placement project is always in the frame of the Erasmus project but it regards only work-placement, therefore, it is not intended for attending part of your university’s curricula abroad (means no classes, no exams). You might be sent to enterprises, training centres, research centres and other organizations in the limit of the EU countries and eventual candidates (e.g. Turkey).

You should know that not all the universities organize the ERASMUS placement. When you are in this kind of situation you have to apply through a consortium. This must hold an ERASMUS consortium placement certificate.

The international office of your university will surely address you to the right place. It gets most difficult for your ERASMUS placement if you have to find the hosting institution by your own. For this job, Google will be a good friend and you have to spend some time on sending emails to potential hosting institutions. But this is a luckily a rare case - most well-organized universities already have partners.

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At the end of your period, your hosting institution will fill a Transcript of Works, which includes all the details of your placement (hours, days, departments where you have been and ECTS credits if applicable). You can apply for it only once.

LLP Leonardo da Vinci

This programme is active in many frames and includes a different kind of activities. Obviously, here we are interested just about those who involve ‘mobility’ initiatives enabling young doctors (you must be graduated) to train in another country.

The steps to follow are very similar to the placement and often the universities who participate in the program are united in a team or consortia. Also, in this case, the international office of your university is most likely able to help you.

Selection procedures and criteria depend on the hosting institutions and the hosting countries. As this programme is for graduates, it is likely that you have to apply at a different university from the one you graduated at.

Thesis research funds

The following apply to these faculties/universities that require a thesis as the final step before graduation:

Through your mentor and your dean, you might formally ask your faculty to provide you the economical coverage for a short term period of research abroad in order to find interesting topics about your final work. Many universities have this kind of funds for the students and unfortunately are often ignored and not used. Besides, it is maybe possible to apply for the LLP ERASMUS or the Placement at the same time. Then you can combine you ERASMUS stay with preparing your thesis already and collecting data etc.

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