Medecins Sans Frontieres Alternative: Projects Abroad
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) is an organization that offers volunteer medical internships abroad. Projects Abroad is an alternative to MSF for volunteers interested in participating in medical internships abroad. While MSF wants doctors, nurses, logisticians and water-sanitation experts, Projects Abroad can use volunteers of all degrees, skills, and education.
Volunteers interested in participating in a medical internship abroad with Projects Abroad are not generally required to have any prior experience. People who want to learn about medicine and volunteering abroad only need to fill out the application, provide a reference and be at least 16 years-old. Medical interns could be high school students interested in becoming a doctors, undergraduate college students on the pre-med track, students taking a glide year, medical school students or doctors. Everyone and anyone is welcome to volunteer in a medical internship abroad with Projects Abroad.
Alternative Option to Medecins Sans Frontieres
MSF’s main focus is medical volunteer opportunities abroad which are in response to catastrophic events such as armed conflicts, epidemics, malnutrition and natural disasters. Some of the MSF medical internships have the potential to be dangerous and possibly life endangering for volunteers. Projects Abroad does not work in these regions. Projects Abroad works in safe, secure, and stable developing countries that are still in need of volunteers’ help. Whereas MSF volunteers work with minimal support, Projects Abroad has full-time, paid and trained staff to support its volunteers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Projects Abroad offers a variety of types of medical internships abroad. MSF focuses on sending specialized volunteers to only specific locations where they are needed. Whereas, Projects Abroad allows medical interns to pursue any medical interests they may have, in any location there is a medical internship available. Volunteers can participate in one or many different medical departments – physical therapy, nursing, midwifery, dentistry, occupational therapy and speech therapy. Medical volunteers can even participate in internships that combine local traditional medicines with the more westernized medical techniques and practices.
"Every weekday I would arrive at the hospital around 8:30 am, and usually watch or assist in different surgical procedures. If there were no surgeries in the morning, I would head to the dressing room to help the nurse clean wounds and remove sutures. Most of the patients I saw did not know English and I did not speak Mongolian, but I learned to use body language as well as some simple Mongolian phrases in order to communicate. On other days, I followed another nurse and helped her prepare IVs and other injections for the patients; she taught me which areas on the arm to inject as well as how to insert a syringe into a vein."
Medicine and Healthcare, Medicine in Mongolia
Medecins Sans Frontieres or Projects Abroad?
Medical interns that volunteer with Projects Abroad will not only get invaluable medical experience and the opportunity to volunteer abroad, but will also have the opportunity to experience a complete immersion in the country’s culture. By living with a host family you will have the chance to learn all about the local customs and cultural beliefs, and be part of a family. Projects Abroad offers medical internships abroad that are a multidimensional and unique volunteer opportunities. If MSF is not for you then consider Projects Abroad as a great alternative.
"Needless to say, my experience in Ghana is one that can’t be fully expressed in mere words. It really is one of those “you had to be there” experiences. All I can say is that I gained so much from this trip. Educationally, I learned a tremendous amount about medicine and the practice of human care. It has made a big mark on my medical school application also, as almost all interviewers have spent a majority of the interview time to ask about my experience. However, my gains were not limited to the educational benefits, because I also created so many memories that have changed me in some way through the different people, culture, and ideas that really defined my experience and every time I think back to my time in Ghana, that’s what I remember."
Medicine and Healthcare, Medicine in Ghana