Study Abroad

Many students are interested in travel abroad for a variety of reasons. In general, there are two periods of time during medical school during which students may travel abroad. These include during the summer between first and second years, and during fourth year for elective credit.

Selecting a Site

Selecting a site to travel to can be very challenging. It is prudent to consider what you hope to achieve through the experience.

Recommendations, based on student’s previous international travel experience:

  • None: Seek a structured educational and cultural experience in a general practice (medicine, surgery) setting. Look for a broad range of clinical and cultural exposures; pay attention to the needs of the poor, and look for their strengths (assets).
  • Some: Look for a semi-structured experience; consider MSR. Pay specific attention to health care system and the logistical challenges of providing care.
  • A lot: Consider MSR; or a self-tailored experience (in a safe, well-supervised setting). Consider narrowing your clinical focus (e.g., Public Health, Women’s Health, Children’s Health, HIV/TB)

You should ensure your country of interest does not have a travel advisory on the US State Department’s website.  Students/Faculty may also use this service by World Watch to learn about safety issues for individual countries (requires Penn State Access ID to log in). 

University Resources

Important PSU policies related to international travel include:

The Global Penn State website has a number of good travel tips, recommendations and requirements.

The Travel Safety Network is a collection of offices, departments, colleges, and campuses working to assist with your safety and security before and during your time abroad.

Medical students interested in studying or doing research abroad will need to complete the Global Health Center’s Travel Application through Penn State’s Travel Safety Network.

When preparing to travel abroad, make sure to check:

  • Documents required by the College of Medicine for international travel
  • Passport/visa
  • Immunizations
  • Travel insurance (offered by PSU Education Abroad, as well as other, private companies)

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