Message from 2020-06-26

UW/H Medical students explore the world

In the past 17 years over 1,500 medicine students from our University have visited over 70 countries

UW/H Medical students explore the world

How many Medicine students study or do internships abroad every year: 1? 10? 100? What’s your guess?

In the last 17 years over 1,500 medicine students have taken stays abroad all over the world visiting remote countries such as Sri Lanka and Samoa. Would you have guessed that over 70 countries worldwide are accessible from our university? We were definitely positively surprised when we saw the data.

Many people at the UW/H assume that taking a semester abroad is mostly done within the Faculty of Management, Economics and Society. A new study however, shows that this perception is misplaced.

We live in a world of globalisation and international connection, where “International Health Electives” (IHEs) are more accessible than ever to medicine students. The real extent of how popular this option is with students was relatively hidden until a recent study was conducted on the subject by Lara Wiegand (Medicine Student), Stefanie Balzereit (Health Faculty Academic Assistant) and Prof. Dr. med Ralf Weigel (Friede Springer Endowed Professorship for Global Child Health). They found that from the over 2,000 applications to study or intern abroad between 2003 - 2019, over 1,500 students applied for countries outside of Germany.

Popular destinations

The most popular destinations within Europe were common tourist destinations such as France (131), Italy (56) and Austria (511) but also less commonly visited countries like Finland (8), Norway (17), Malta (19) or Luxembourg (1).

The majority of the countries visited though (50), were outside of Europe. Including  Australia (12), the US (34) and countries in Africa, South America or Asia. Very popular locations that might come as a surprise include Sri Lanka (28), South Africa (36), Indonesia (41) and Nepal (65).

During the IHE, usually around two months but up to more than six, most students work in clinics and hospitals. This is sometimes combined with attending classes, in order to give them the opportunity to apply theory into practice. This might sound like a tough time full of hard work, and in some cases, it certainly is very challenging. However, it is also a thrilling experience to take professional responsibility and to work within different cultural settings.

Almost every region on earth and almost every culture is accessible. Many students come back with a bucket load of new experiences, practical know-how and fantastic memories to cherish of cities and countries far away. Whether you are looking for the „typical chilly lifestyle“ (Valencia, Spain 2015), a „way more practical professional training than in Germany” (Leiden, Netherlands 2015/16) or a “wonderful and versatile city” (Copenhagen, Denmark 2016): the IHE program at UW/H is your opportunity to “make incomparable experiences” (Tromsø, Norway 2016/17)! The student reports are accessible in the UW/H intranet.

If you are also interested in planning a stay abroad yourself, go for it! We recommend you contact the authors of the reports if you are interested in a particular location. For the administrative side: the medical placements are organised via the clinic coordination and all other study exchanges via the International Office. Different funding options are available depending where you choose to go. Within Europe you can be funded via Erasmus+. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us: We look forward to hearing from you!



Article written by Tim Rauschenberg, Student Assistant International Office

Die Universität Witten/Herdecke ist durch das NRW-Wissenschaftsministerium unbefristet staatlich anerkannt und wird – sowohl als Institution wie auch für ihre einzelnen Studiengänge – regelmäßig akkreditiert durch: