Five Years After Study Abroad: IES Abroad Alum Parth Patel, Medical Student

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IES Abroad
May 9, 2018

Parth PatelWhile studying abroad in Spain, Parth Patel (IES Abroad Madrid, Fall 2012 | University of Pittsburgh) became more proficient in medical and conversational Spanish. He also was able to get a first-hand look at the Spanish medical system by volunteering at a local hospital in Madrid.

We caught up with Parth, IES Abroad Scholarship recipient,to hear how his study abroad experience helped prepare him for medical school at the University of Pittsburg School of Medicine and a future career as a physician.

IES Abroad: As a student at the University of Pittsburgh, what led you to study abroad in Madrid?

Parth Patel (PP): Even before beginning my undergraduate studies, I knew I wanted to study abroad to fully immerse myself in another culture and to become more proficient in the local language and customs. I chose to study abroad in Madrid because I had studied Spanish for the previous seven years and had learned so much about Spain during my Spanish classes and wanted to experience the culture first-hand.

IES Abroad: What impact did the IES Abroad Scholarship have on your career path and journey to where you are today?

PP: The IES Abroad Scholarship allowed me to fully enjoy my experience in Madrid, without excessively worrying about finances. I am thankful for having been given this opportunity. Thanks to my study abroad experience, I now have family and close friends in Spain that I have already visited since my study abroad experience. This experience made me confident that I want to practice medicine on a global level and help in underserved areas.

IES Abroad: What inspired you to pursue a career in medicine? What’s next for you after you complete your M.D. degree in 2018?

PP: I chose medicine to help those with limited access to healthcare and medicine receive the care they need. Throughout my undergraduate years and medical school, I have worked with the underserved population by volunteering at local clinics and by learning more about health policy through my time as a White House Intern.

After completing my M.D. degree, I will complete my residency training and will aim to advance these ideals by joining community and global health partnerships to help patients receive the care they need.

IES Abroad: How did studying abroad in Madrid help prepare you for the field of medicine? Are there any skills or lessons you continue to draw upon today?

PP: Studying abroad in Madrid helped prepare me for medicine by helping me become more proficient in medical and conversational Spanish. I was able to volunteer at Hospital Clínico San Carlos while in Madrid, where I viewed the Spanish healthcare system and how it differs from that of the United States.

This experience gave me insight as to how to approach patient care as a future physician and taught me how to be culturally sensitive and to respect cultural differences. I was able to apply my experience studying abroad in Spain by volunteering at a Latino Clinic in Pittsburgh, where I’ve been able to use my Spanish proficiency to make patients feel more at ease due to the absence of a language barrier.

parth patel madridIES Abroad: Do you have any advice for students who are thinking of studying or interning abroad?

PP: I highly recommended it! Studying abroad was honestly one of the best experiences of my life — I enjoyed it so much that I actually studied abroad a second semester, the next time in Australia.

My advice would be to really get to know the local Spanish people, both through the homestay experience and by participating in intercambios with local Spanish university students. It’s a great way to learn about the culture first-hand and to make new friends. Also try to speak Spanish as much as you can — the more you practice your Spanish, the more you’ll get out of your time there.


The “Five Years After Study Abroad” series features alumni who received an IES Abroad scholarship and explores how studying abroad shaped their life and career.

Curious about finding the perfect study abroad program as a Pre-Med student? Explore our Health & Pre-Med study abroad opportunities around the world.

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