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Students abroadGo Outside Your Comfort Zone...But Stay Within Your Ethical Zone

Learning abroad offers students unique opportunities to grow in cultural and self-awareness. For you as a student, study abroad provides a chance to step outside your comfort zone, and learn how to live and learn in a different culture, with people who see the world differently.

Why Study Abroad?

Learning abroad provides ample opportunity to grow and learn about how to deal with ambiguity and learning to make decisions with limited information. Why is this important for future health professionals? Because dealing with ambiguity is a part of daily work life. As a health professional, you must be able to make decisions in a fast-paced environment and time-sensitive environment, with limited information.

Additionally, we continue to live in a diverse society. The patients you will be caring for will come from the global community and places throughout the world. Understanding the perspective of others, as well as the cultural norms and traditions that influence their health and health practices, is essential to providing good care.

All students should consider spending some time abroad, whether it is a global seminar for three weeks or a semester or more abroad. While many students face the challenge of fitting in a learning abroad experience, it is important to try to find the time and space.

Note: Pre-health students do not need to go on a "health-related" study abroad trip to gain valuable experiences. The cultural experience itself has tremendous value. If you do study abroad, remember that you are there to learn and the learning is done through observation...not by providing untrained medical care.


Voluntourism? Stay Within Your Ethical Zone

Pre-med or pre-health students are often eager to gain skills and patient care experiences. And they may go abroad to do so. However, before embarking on an international trip for that unique patient-care experience, remember this rule of thumb all students should follow: "If you can't do it here, you shouldn't do it there." As an untrained, undergraduate student, it is unethical to provide direct medical care.

Think about the ethics of what you are doing now and how it can impact your future dreams. More and more admissions committees are judging students on their ability to make good, ethical decisions. Those ethical decisions start before you even submit your application to medical school or any health professional program.

For more information on this, please see this online workshop: Global Ambassadors for Patient Safety


Ideas for Learning Abroad Opportunities

Look here for ideas on going abroad:

Be sure to work with the Learning Abroad Center as you are planning your trip!


A word of caution to students who participate in learning abroad experiences designed to provide “hands on experiences”:
The rule of thumb all students should follow is “if you can’t do it here, you shouldn’t do it there”. More and more admissions committees are judging students on their ability to make good, ethical decisions. As an untrained, undergraduate students, it is unethical to provide direct patient care. For more information on this, please see this online workshop: Global Ambassadors for Patient Safety 

University of Minnesota Resources

The University of Minnesota offers a wide array of health-related learning abroad experiences and non-health related experiences.

Learning Abroad in Medicine, Public Health, & Health Sciences

Learning Abroad: Major Advising Pages

Learning Abroad: Liaisons for UMTC Academic Units

Volunteering Abroad?

Can something you do abroad impact your application to a health professional program in a negative way? Yes! If you are volunteering abroad, learn about what you should - and should not - do when you are at your volunteering site through this online workshop:

Online Workshop:
Global Ambassadors for Patient Safety


Looking for ideas for where you might volunteer?

International Service Opportunities


Before you leave, work with the U of M's Learning Abroad Center, to ensure that they are informed of your plans:

Learning Abroad Center