The importance of pre-departure training for a better understanding of global health issues

ifmsa-2017

(IFMSA, 2016)

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Ms Xiya Ma. The writer is a medical student from Québec (Canada) who has served as national officer of research exchanges for the Québec chapter of the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA-Québec) for the past 2 years. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA).

For many of us, there’s nothing more exciting than going on an exchange: the thrill of the unknown and the opportunity to combine travelling and learning. Exchanges represent a practical way for medical students to learn about global health: how medicine works abroad as well as the advantages and challenges of a different medical system.

However, as an IFMSA Québec exchange officer for 3 years and an exchange student for 2 summers, I cannot stress how important it is for students to attend a thorough, well-designed pre-departure training so they can gain the most out of their learning experience on global health. If carried out properly, the training will prime them not only for the logistical aspect of travelling, but also the complexity of cultural differences and the ethics surrounding our acts abroad.

Pre-departure trainings allow students to learn about the culture of their destination, but most importantly to recognize a phenomenon we refer to as “culture shock”. Changing sociocultural environments, while exciting, is a stress, and everyone reacts differently towards it. Should that reaction give feelings of discomfort, frustration and confusion, then the student is going through a culture shock.

If students have not been taught on how to deal with culture shock, they could unwillingly isolate themselves from the local community, idealize their home country and live a generally negative experience. Luckily, such a situation, while virtually unavoidable, can be remediated if one knows how to accept their shock and work with their new environment.

For instance, in IFMSA-Québec’s pre-departure training, we equip our students with techniques to cope with culture shock through adapting to the local community and developing an open mindset to learning.

Pre-departure trainings are also the ideal time for students to reflect on how they would react in ethically challenged situations. For instance, how should one deal with a different hospital hierarchy system? Which medical acts should or should not be performed by the student? What topics of discussions are acceptable for the local people?

It is a great occasion to gather previous participants to share their experiences on the topic as well as simulate situations in which students may encounter ethical dilemmas. Preparing students in advance will help them make better decisions once on the ground.

I believe the most important thing to remember while on an exchange is that we are there to learn from them, and not the other way around. As medical students, our capabilities are often too limited to be of substantial help to the local communities, and it is essential to realize that our presence could become a liability should their resources be limited.

The simplest way we can give back is by staying humble, open-minded and respectful of the customs. As visiting students, we also bring a new perspective about our culture and medicine to the local community. Indeed, exchanges are all about “exchanging” so to better understand how we can tackle the challenges of global health together.

About the author

Xiya is a medical student from Québec (Canada) who has served as national officer of research exchanges for the Québec chapter of the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA-Québec) for the past 2 years. She also works at the international level as a supervising board member for IFMSA’s research exchanges committee (SCORE). She has been involved in numerous pre-departure trainings in her local organization and firmly believes in the necessity to prepare medical students accordingly before they go abroad.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Brain drain 2017: why do medical students need to emigrate to become doctors in 2017?

‘Internal security’ or how to compromise citizens’ rights and also make huge profits

How can entrepreneurship tackle the migration crisis in the EU?

Vegetarianism is good for the economy too

Misinformation and growing distrust on vaccines, ‘dangerous as a disease’ says UNICEF chief

We have the tools to beat climate change. Now we need to legislate

Latest tragedy in the Mediterranean claims over 100 lives – UN refugee agency

European Youth Forum on Summit on Jobs and Growth

Why is Grexit again in the news? Who is to pay for Eurozone’s banking problems?

EU’s tougher privacy rules: WhatsApp and Facebook set to be soon aligned with telcos

To achieve the Great Reset, we will need more than just the actions of the powerful

Migration policy affects attractiveness of OECD countries to international talent

6 charts that show how Japan’s economy stacks up as it enters a new era

MEPs want to boost energy storage in the EU to help spur decarbonisation

DR Congo President and UN chief meet at a ‘historic moment’ for democracy in the country

EU budget: Commission proposes €1.26 billion to reinforce the European Solidarity Corps

Strengthen inclusion, participation of people with autism to ‘achieve their full potential’ says UN chief

Italian banks: It’s Rome’s turn to confront Berlin’s aggressiveness

Draghi strives to control the unruly exploitation of financial markets by banking leviathans

Eurozone: How safe are our deposits? Which banks will survive?

Europe enters uncharted waters with Kiev-Moscow standoff

Stakeholder capitalism is urgently needed – and the COVID-19 crisis shows us why

Growing up near green space is good for your mental health as an adult

Here’s how data could make our cities safer

New York and London mayors call on cities to divest from fossil fuels

‘Climate change is the battle of my life’, UN chief tells students living on the frontline in Fiji

UN chief ‘deeply saddened’ by Ethiopia plane crash which killed 157, including at least 21 UN workers

What little Cameron got in Brussels seems enough to keep Britain in the EU

Thailand gave healthcare to its entire population and the results were dramatic

Finland should do more to improve job prospects of low-skilled youth

Syria: Civilians caught in crossfire, UN refugee chief urges Jordan to open its border

5 steps businesses can take to protect air quality after COVID-19

One third of poorer countries face both undernutrition and obesity: WHO report

This is why retail is such a sore point in India-US trade relations

What matters most to young Europeans?

Only the Americans are unhappy with the ceasefire agreement in eastern Ukraine

Greece begins a new chapter following the conclusion of its stability support programme

ECB’s new money bonanza handed out to help the real economy or create new bubbles?

Digitalization is changing banking – These 3 trends will help shape its future

G20 LIVE: G20 Antalya Summit in Numbers, 15-16 November 2015

Amidst ‘high political tension’, UN chief appeals to G20 leaders for stronger commitment to climate action, economic cooperation

Air pollution, the ‘silent killer’ that claims seven million lives a year: rights council hears

How banking with blockchain can stamp out corruption and increase financial inclusion

Does the Erasmus program really contribute to the construction of a solid EU identity?

Why CEOs need to become activists in sustainability

The European Commission to stop Buffering

Tools of asset development: Renewable Energy Projects case

The blackened white coat of the doctors

UN says ‘many humanitarian achievements’, one year after ouster of ISIL from Mosul

Brexit must not put UK university research at risk

Volkswagen getting away with it in Europe

Energy: EU funding for priority projects should reflect 2050 climate objectives

Healthy habits to help you cope with health anxiety

‘End the ongoing atrocities’ against people with albinism in Malawi, say UN rights experts

How building renovations can speed up the electric vehicle revolution

The relation of deforestation and respiratory diseases

Deutsche Bank chased away from US, threatened with more fines

What does strategy have to do with a platform approach?

International Criminal Court acquits former president Gbagbo of war crimes in Côte d’Ivoire

How emerging markets will shape Africa in 2020

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s