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BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 01 October 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:0510383
  1. Se Eon Jung, Helen Gordon national exchange officers 2004-5

The Student BMJ, in partnership with the IFMSA, has launched the new International Experiences section on Student, where students can post a report of their elective and IFMSA exchange experiences. Helen Gordon and Se Eun Jung explain what an IFMSA professional exchange is all about and what it takes to set up the programme in your medical school

Every year nearly 7000 medical students escape from the medical school they know so well to learn something new, which they cannot experience at home-a different healthcare system and a different life as a medical student. This programme is organised for students by students and has run successfully since 1951 and 6600 people world wide participated last year.

zThe IFMSA backbone

The exchanges are facilitated and organised through the Standing Committee on Professional Exchanges (SCOPE), which could be considered the backbone of the International Federation of Medical Students' Associations (IFMSA). Its aim is to promote and strengthen international understanding of medical students through international exchanges. These exchanges offer students a unique educational and cultural experience, and are an interesting addition to the traditional medical curriculum. The experience broadens students' knowledge of medical and social conditions in another country.

Each country has a national member organisation (NMO) that is affiliated to the IFMSA. For example, the United Kingdom's NMO is called Medsin-UK. The NMOs are ultimately responsible for the exchanges in their country and they oversee and facilitate the exchange process through the election of at least one national exchange officer, who signs contracts with other countries and looks after every exchange that takes place in their country. They also encourage new faculties to set up exchanges and train the local exchange officers. Each local committee at the respective medical school has local exchange officers, who organise the exchanges at local level. They explain the …

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