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.

Advertising

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

Zeid calls for ICC probe into Myanmar Rohingya crisis

Yemen: Escalation in fighting must stop ‘before it’s too late’, Griffiths tells Security Council

Better housing means better health and well-being, stress new WHO guidelines

Turkey caught in a vicious Syrian circle bringing terror and war at home

Why Sub-Saharan Africa needs a unique response to COVID-19

EU and China to do more in common if the global scene gets worse

Who can compel Wallonia to unlock CETA, the EU-Canada free trade pack?

How the Great Famine inspired Irish people to help Native Americans in the fight against COVID-19

EU Copyright Directive: Will US tech giants comply or ditch the EU market?

These Harvard scientists think we’ll have to socially distance until 2022

‘Refrain from violence’ UN chief urges, as presidential election result is announced in DR Congo

Youth for Climate Change

EU leaders agree to delay Brexit until 31 October

Madrid is banning high-polluting vehicles from the city centre

Here are three technology trends changing the way you travel

Pro-EU forces won a 70% triumph in the European elections

3.7 million lives could be saved by 2025 if health services ramp up nutrition actions: WHO

Guinea-Bissau needs ‘genuinely free and fair elections’ to break cycle of instability

Brexit: UK business fear of a no-deal scenario preparing for the worst

What did we learn from COP25?

These chefs are fighting hunger and poverty with gastronomy

These 5 industries can drive digital financial inclusion

Nothing about us without us: how youth empowerment creates lasting change in the climate meltdown

Prospect of lasting peace ‘fading by the day’ in Gaza and West Bank, senior UN envoy warns

This city in India swaps plastic for free meals

“An open China brings opportunities to Europe”, a Sting Exclusive by China’s Ambassador to EU

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte: “Europe must listen to the people”

The EU moulds a new compromise for growth and financial sustainability

Western Balkans’ leaders meeting: EU reinforces support to address COVID-19 crisis and outlines proposal for post-pandemic recovery

How fixing broken food systems can help us meet all the SDGs

Indonesia: Psychological impact on earthquake survivors turns villages into ‘ghost towns’

EU prolongs economic sanctions on Russia by six months

This underwater restaurant teaches you about the ocean while you eat

These German businesses are hiring refugees to plug the skills gap

Human rights breaches in Bangladesh, Cuba and Vietnam

UN human rights chief fears world has grown numb to Syrian carnage

“France will be there, it will always be there!”, French President Hollande says in a rather disorganised speech; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

Coronavirus update: UN addresses school disruptions, suspends public access to New York Headquarters

Four years on and half a billion dollars later – Tax Inspectors Without Borders

UN police officer recognized for protecting vulnerable Somali women from abuse

A day in the life of a refugee: the wait

Thursday’s Daily Brief: STIs worldwide, food safety and food prices, updates on Iraq and East Africa

Why COVID-19 makes a compelling case for the wider integration of blockchain

Everybody against Germany over the expensive euro

Onagawa’s spirit of togetherness: lessons from the 2011 tsunami

Tax evasion and fraud threaten the European project

From DIY editing to matchmaking by DNA: how human genomics is changing society

1 in 7 people would choose not to fly because of climate change

So different, so close – for two twinning cities

World Economic Forum launches COVID Action Platform to fight coronavirus

Can the US deal a blow to EU and Russia together over Ukraine?

The Banking Union may lead to a Germanic Europe

Resisting EU budget cuts

Australia now has 25 million people. Will it choose to keep growing?

We must learn and change after Haiti sexual abuse scandal -Oxfam chief

The Middle East needs a technological revolution. Start-ups can lead the way

Attempt to defy international law over Golan Heights sovereignty ‘doomed to failure’ Security Council hears

This tech company is aiming to plant 500 billion trees by 2060 – using drones

Greece’s last Eurogroup or the beginning of a new solid European Union?

Brexit: An orderly exit is in the interests of both parties

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