The Professional Exchange program is a full educational program which aims to give all students theopportunity to learn about global health, meet other cultures and see how health care functions inother countries around the world. Since the very beginning, it was one of the most important parts of IFMSA organisation. SCOPE board was founded in 1951, when less than 500 students spent a period abroad in one of 9 countries that were included in the program back then. Nowadays, around 13.000 students from more than 90 countries travel around the world to discover new health systems by working in hospitals around the world. In the year of 1991, SCORE board was founded, allowing students to take part in scientific work, which is how Research Exchange program started.
How does that exactly work?
Every student, who is active in the organisation, can apply to this program and travel one month to country he/she chose. Standing Comitee at the beginning of the academic year signs contracts that include unilateral or bilateral exchange. Bilateral contracts imply that the country that sents its student to another country, has to accept one student back, while unilateral contracts just send student to another country, without having to accept any students back. After the exchange is given, the student has to pay a certain amount of money to the organisation. The exchange lasts one month and there is an opton of professional or research exchange.
Professional exchange includes working in hospital, usually for 4 weeks, 4-6 hours per day. A student, depending on its knowledge, gets the opportunity to participate in examining patients or even takes part in surgeries. He/she chooses 4 departments he/she is interested in, but for most countries you have to pass the exam or at least attend this subject prior to exchange.
Research exchanges give students the opportunity to participate in scientific work, which most of them don't have chance to experience at their university.
In exchange of a participation fee, the hosting organisation is obligated to enable every student lodging at a student facility or with a host family, and at least one meal per day. Hosting students organise social program, that can include travelling to places around the hosting city. During the academic year students participate in activities organised by all the other IFMSA comitees. They get a certain number of points, which puts them on a list with all the other students who are active in the organisation.
Students during the exchange fill the Handbook which contains a list of things they should learn during this month, and that is valued as learned skill at their university. Usually the exchange is not valued as any subject nor you can get graded for it. During all these years that the organisation is active, international exchanges have been developing and the system was improving in order for students to try something new and special, without spending a big amount of money. Feedback from students who have returned from their exchanges proves that the organisation is very successful and well developed.