Home might be where the heart is, but it doesn't have to be where you go to medical school.
While it can be tempting to stay in a familiar area near family and friends, there are many benefits of going to medical school outside your geographic comfort zone. The new experiences and change of pace can not only make you a more well-rounded person but also a more well-rounded physician.
For example, out-of-state students who attend the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA:
1. Experience new cultures
As a physician, you will interact with patients from various cultural and socio-economic backgrounds — people whose life experiences, opinions and belief systems may be very different from your own. Living in a new part of the country, even for a few years, helps open your eyes to just how big and diverse the world is. In a multicultural city like Los Angeles, medical students don't just learn about Californians. They also meet and interact with people from all over the world.
2. Enjoy a different climate
If you're tired of those blistery New England winters or balmy Southern summers, a few years on the West Coast might be just what the doctor ordered. With moderate temperatures and sunshine almost every day, many students at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA say the weather is one of the best things about living in LA.
3. See a different part of the country
Living in a different state means there are new sights to see, attractions to visit and cities to explore. Not only is Los Angeles one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, but it's only a day's drive from San Francisco, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and other must-see sites.
4. Build a more diverse academic resume
There's nothing wrong with completing your undergraduate education and medical training in the same area or even at the same school. But earning degrees in different regions tells future employers that you've been exposed to diverse peoples, philosophies, environments and ways of thinking about the practice of medicine.
5. Practice being uncomfortable
Going to med school outside your geographic comfort zone means starting over in a new place, making new friends and finding your way around a new city. Such changes can be uncomfortable and intimidating at first, but they also require you to think on your feet, learn and adapt, embrace new challenges and thrive in unfamiliar environments. These are important skills for future physicians.
6. Open your mind to the benefits of travel
Once you adapt to living in a new city, you might decide you like traveling, seeing different parts of the country and gaining new experiences. This could open career possibilities you hadn't considered, such as practicing medicine in an underserved area of the U.S. or even working in global health.
For more on the benefits of going to med school outside your geographic comfort zone, read "Why You'll Love LA."
By Taylor Mallory Holland