This is a tricky subject because there are less (or no) regulations in clinics set up in developing countries than there are in US medical schools. This means that there are more chances to take advantage of patients in an unethical way. By that, I mean that students will inevitably have opportunities to perform procedures that they wouldn’t be allowed to perform in the US. This creates a huge ethical dilemma and makes understanding your limitations extremely important.
Many people frown upon pre-med students or medical students going and practicing in developing countries. However, students that uphold ethical standards can really get a lot out of learning in developing countries and they can do so without taking advantage of underdeveloped healthcare systems.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you are still a student and you are there to learn. You are not there to ‘save the world.’ Quite honestly, you have the potential to be more in the way than to actually help out. However, if you are respectful, proactive, and understand and adhere to your limitations, then you can actually be a help while learning from local doctors.
Students can really get a lot out of these experiences because it can train them to diagnose and treat patients with fewer resources. It can also spark a passion in the field of global health and influence the future physicians of the world.