Elective Educational Unit: International Exchange Experience in Undergraduate Medical Training

ABSTRACT As part of the integrated curriculum, the Elective Educational Unity (EEU) is a tool to support knowledge construction and student autonomy during undergraduate training. The international exchange for undergraduates therefore aims to explore potentialities and challenges within a pedagogical perspective through the experience and understanding ofdiverse educational institutions and health services, through prolonged contact with other professionals and students. One constructive strategy of an elective internship is in conjunction with student associations. This report intends to contribute to medical education by reflecting on how the international elective internship impacts on medical training, analysing its potentialities and challenges. The reportaddresses the steps in accomplishing the exchange, presenting the activities developed in the experience, highlightingthe observed objectives and results, along with reflections on the experience. It is ascertained that the international exchange stimulates the experience, recognition and understanding of other cultures; it helps students build autonomy and stimulates a critical reflexive view which promotes knowledge construction, raising the student’s awareness of his own social responsibility as a health professional. Therefore, the Elective Educational Unit encourages the student to elect the exchange as a curricular activity, it supports him on choosing a study area and international or national institution of interest, with the option to liaise with other organizations, for example the student organization. Unquestionably, personal growth is one of the consequences through learning about diversecultures and making new friendships and partnerships between different countries. However, there are challenges, such as adaptation to another cultural context, affective detachment and the understanding that different places have distinct historical, social, economic contexts from one another. Thus, advances and changes are proposed to improve the Elective Educational Unit, stimulating greater student participation in international experiences during undergraduate training, as well as underlining the importance of the supervisor’s role in the elective planning process.