A fresh perspective
After a highly specialised placement with Work the World you’ll be better prepared for a successful career in medicine than anyone who chose the easy route and stayed at home. You’ll come to appreciate the ingenuity professionals use to combat problems such as ageing equipment, high-patient numbers, under resourced wards, and more.
Under the guidance of your in-country supervisors you’ll be introduced to a range of unusual cases and conditions such as dengue fever, typhoid, and malaria. Diagnosing and treating them will teach you new skills and impart you with knowledge that would otherwise be impossible to acquire. The cost of care and distance to appropriate facilities in developing countries often deters patients from seeking care until the last minute. This means you’ll see a number of advanced-stage conditions too. As far as medical electives go, travelling overseas to get experience as diverse as this is an opportunity not to be missed.
YOUR ELECTIVE, CUSTOM-MADE
‘We can make it happen’ - words we live by. Let us know your interests and we’ll tailor your medical placement with clinical precision, right down to the smallest item. It’s important to know that these are not off the peg placements; they are custom-fit experiences that meet the specific wants and needs you have as an individual. Our team of Elective Experts will arrange your hospital placement, pair you with the right supervisors, handle university documentation, your visa application, and more — the service is comprehensive. Our Elective Experts are also responsible for overseeing our on-the-ground operations, meaning there’s no one better for the job.
ON THE GROUND
When you’re in the country of your choice you’ll receive 24/7 support from our welcoming in-country teams and a room in one of our private, secure, and fully catered houses. To make it easy to find out everything about your placement all in one place, we’ll also give you access to MyTrip, our personalised, online elective information tool. Our sole focus is the creation of exceptional overseas clinical experiences. So when it comes to medical electives abroad we’re proud to offer the best placements available anywhere.
The most interesting cases and presentations I have seen on placements are Neurocysticercosis and a gastric tumour I saw in GI Endoscopy.
Heather Bertelson, Ross University 2015Read more
I am so grateful to have had the chance to work with the team of staff at the emergency department; I would return in a heartbeat.
Gou Jun Kwek, National University of Singapore 2015Read more
Ryan Fielder, University of Manchester 2015Read more
I have seen so many interesting cases. Because of the climate in the Philippines, I have seen so many tropical infectious diseases such as Dengue, Typhoid, TB, etc.
Kalaichelvy Manoharan, University College London 2015Read more
The Philippines is still considered to be in a transitory epidemiologic phase, characterised by a double burden of disease – infectious and non-communicable.
Dana Lewis, University College London 2015Read more
Medical elective destinations
Tanzania - Arusha
Arusha is one of the liveliest cities in Africa, and an open door to adventure. Whether you enjoy mountain climbing, big game safaris, touring dormant volcanoes, or browsing craft markets, there’s a world of exciting options right on your doorstep. The city is always in motion, and no two days are the same. Medics will have access to a number of wards and be able to gain experience across an array of specialisms from paediatrics to observing in theatre. This is one of the best medical electives that Africa has to offer.
Large parts of the Tanzanian landscape make up what can only be described as an unspoiled Eden. Arusha, or “A Town” as the locals know it, is a veritable treasure trove of experiences. There are also plenty of bars and restaurants to keep you entertained, whether you want a taste of Tanzanian food and music, or simpler comforts like pizza and a beer. But you can also venture further afield to enjoy safaris around the majestic Ngorongoro volcanic crater to see rhinos, lions, cheetahs and zebra, make the 3-day climb to the summit of Mt. Meru, take a short flight to the paradise island of Zanzibar, and more.
The institution with which we’re partnered is comprised of a number of busy wards that, depending on the placement you choose, offer specialisms across the board. You’ll have the chance to work in internal medicine, on surgical cases and more. Patients in Arusha can suffer from a wide range of conditions including malaria, HIV, hypertension, pneumonia and asthma, meaning you can be sure your placement will be varied. There are also opportunities for you to scrub in for theatre to observe procedures such as laparotomies, appendectomies, myomectomies, bone surgeries, caesarean sections, gynaecological surgeries.
On this once in a lifetime experience you’ll live within the confines of the Maasai enkang (the village enclosure), and will stay with a host family in a traditional hut. Your mornings will be spent working at the local health dispensary, examining and diagnosing cases and suggesting courses of action. You’ll spend your afternoons with a local guide who will introduce you to the local culture and customs of the Maasai tribe, such as traditional dancing, visiting sacred sites, and watching goat sacrifices. This experience is the perfect complement to your city-based placement.
Tanzania - Dar es Salaam
Dar es Salaam is the largest city in Tanzania, yet due to its location the most extraordinary natural beauty surrounds it. There are opportunities to go on safaris in Sealous Game Park, and to travel to Mt. Kilimanjaro, which some of our students have successfully climbed. You can also head across to Zanzibar to experience some of the most incredible beaches you’ll have ever seen. The city itself is a bustling hub of culture that you’ll never forget. Focusing on your medical elective you’ll team up with specialists in our partner hospitals to help treat communicable diseases, road traffic accident injuries, HIV, and a host of other ailments may well be entirely unfamiliar to you.
Dar es Salaam is a sprawling city. Dynamic as it is, every day will bring with it new experiences. Head to Mikumi National Park for big game safaris, and if you’re up for the challenge, take the bus to Mt. Kilimanjaro and make for the summit. The beautiful island of Zanzibar is across the water should you want to experience paradise beaches, delicious local cuisine, and some of the world’s best dive spots. The Work the World house is at the heart of a friendly community, and everything you could possibly need is nearby.
Dar es Salaam offers excellent opportunities in niche areas like neurosurgery, oncology and anaesthesiology. Major departments also provide the opportunity to work with more advanced referrals. In every instance you will gain irreplaceable experience treating communicable disease and advanced pathologies that you may have only read about in textbooks. You’ll also be able to explore a number of specialisms like endocrinology, cardiology, neurology, dermatology, and more.
Staying in a rural village located in the stunning foothills of the Viduna Mountains, you will enjoy the hospitality of our welcoming host family. Your mornings will be spent working at a busy healthcare clinic examining cases and suggesting medication, and then afternoons with a local guide who can introduce you to the culture and customs of the local community. This will include traditional drumming and dancing, cycling to the sugar cane plantations, swimming in nearby waterfalls, and more.
Nepal - Pokhara
Pokhara is an energetic city nestled at the feet of the Himalayas. The city and the surrounding areas offer a variety of amazing experiences from paragliding to hiking through the snow-capped mountains. As a medic you’ll enjoy working in either large key departments, or smaller clinics with a much more specific focus. You’ll have the opportunity to observe and treat a number of unusual cases including everything from HIV to insect and snake bites. A medical elective abroad in an environment such as this has the potential to change the course of your life.
Pokhara may be a snowy mountain city, but there is a lot to do. Try paragliding with birds of prey circling overhead, white-water rafting down raging river rapids, or head out into the wild on an elephant safari. For some peace and quiet take a tour of the many temples in the area, or take a breather from city life by rowing across the still waters of Phewa Lake. Of course there are bars and restaurants here too, some of which can be found a short walk from the Work the World house.
Students on placement in Pokhara have access to big, busy wards and the chance to work in key departments or smaller, niche clinics. Whether you are keen to scrub in for theatre or work with leprosy rehabilitation, there are all manner of options available. The list of ailments you’re likely to come across is extensive, and some conditions are so rare that you may not have seen them before. Skin infections, insect and snake bites, typhoid, rheumatic fever, respiratory infections, worm infestations, HIV, TB is to name but a few.
Taking some time out to refocus your attention on more rural healthcare provision is the perfect complement to your experience in Pokhara’s busy city hospitals. Venture with a personal guide into the Himalayas and learn about local medicinal practices in a remote mountain village. In a local health outpost alongside a resident professional, you’ll treat walk-in patients in an extremely low-resource setting. In the afternoons you’ll hike to sacred temples, try your hand at Nepalese cooking, learn how to milk the village buffalos, and more.
Nepal - Kathmandu
Kathmandu is a more recent addition to our list, and the second in our Nepal line-up. In this lively capital city you’ll see monkeys roaming the rooftops, walk past Buddhist temples as you listen to the monks chanting their daily prayers, head into the Himalayan Mountains to go paragliding and bungee jumping, and beyond. As a medic you’ll work across a range of departments and even have the opportunity to leave the hospital to engage in some community outreach. There are also specialist departments here that focus in on everything from pulmonology to neurology.
Kathmandu is home to a broad cross section of Nepal’s population, and as a result you’ll come across individuals from all walks of life. The lively centre is a maze of narrow lanes, market stalls and people speeding along old dusty streets on ramshackle motorbikes. But somehow the city still feels ancient, and there are more temples here than you’ll be able to visit. To experience a typically Nepalese night out, head to the bars and clubs in the Thamel district. You’ll find all the adventure sports in the Himalayan Mountains beyond the city, including paragliding, hiking, boating down white-water rapids and more.
In Kathmandu you’ll get to work alongside some of the best doctors in all of Nepal. The hospitals we’ve partnered with here are varied and some of them are highly specialised. This means you can focus in on areas that are of specific interest to you. There is also some opportunity for you to travel outside the hospital on an outreach programme that operates in the city and beyond. Specialist areas you’ll be able to work in within our partner institutions include neurology, cardiology, nephrology, pulmonology, and more. Even more interestingly one of our partner hospitals receives a number of tropical and infectious disease cases.
Head into the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains on this once in a lifetime clinical village placement. After spending time in Kathmandu’s busy city institutions, this opportunity will provide a welcome perspective. In the morning you’ll work with specialists in a local health post treating walk-in patients. In the afternoons your guide will help immerse you in local culture like cooking lessons, the art of beekeeping, milking buffalo, trekking to hidden mountain temples and much more. This is a rare chance to see how care is offered in a truly low-resource environment.
Philippines - Dumaguete
Dumaguete is besieged by a combination of 800 hectares of tropical forest on one side, and calm turquoise ocean on the other. Head beneath the waves and dive into a coral paradise inhabited by colourful marine life, trek through untamed jungles, visit Siquijor Island to witness the strange healing spells of the local witches and more. Medics will be able to go niche and work in areas like paediatrics, urology and oncology, picking up skills that would otherwise be difficult to acquire.
Dumaguete is a rapidly modernising port city with a vibrant culture and a population of some of the happiest people on the planet. From the modern bars and restaurants on the promenade to the beautiful beaches, Dumaguete has everything you could possibly want to make your trip a once in a lifetime experience. Activities outside the city include trekking to an adventure reserve found in the dense tropical jungle to swim in waterfalls and spot wildlife, whale watching from boats off the coast of Bais, and watching the sun go down on a golden beach, cocktail in hand.
In Dumaguete you’ll have the chance to observe, diagnose and treat a multitude of uncommon afflictions. Communicable diseases like tuberculosis and HIV might be your focus, or you could direct your energies into narrower subspecialties such as paediatrics or urology. You’ll also come across a number of unfamiliar ailments that simply do not exist in the UK. The wards here are busy and diverse, meaning the experience you receive will impart upon you skills and knowledge that few people at home will have had access to.
In a local immunisation clinic, prenatal and maternity clinic, and a small laboratory, you’ll put your skills to the test. Experience the challenges faced by the local healthcare professionals who have to deal with limited access to medical equipment and supplies. In the afternoons you’ll join in activities such as barbecues on the patio of a protected reef’s guardhouse, swimming in crystal clear waters full of tropical fish, crab collecting with the locals in the mangrove forests, and more. Having worked in Dumaguete’s lively city hospitals, spending time in a remote environment will show you a totally different side of medicine in the Philippines.
Philippines - Iloilo
Iloilo is the perfect place if you like tropical beaches, warm seas and long sunny days. Go diving off the coast to peer into a colourful underwater world, join in the regular festivals that take place across the island, take a tour of the city’s best street food vendors, and in the evenings make your way to the local bars for a great night out. As a medic you’ll experience a diverse placement with a strong emphasis on getting involved. You’ll work across a range of departments, both specialised and general, observing medical practices in a healthcare system entirely different from your own.
As far as the Philippines go, Iloilo is one of our two favourite cities. It’s on a tropical island and opportunities for adventure here are limitless. Climb aboard a boat and go whale watching off Cebu’s coast, head into the jungle and experience being ‘cooked alive’ in a kawa hot bath, or head over to Boracay to worship the sun on the island’s award-winning beaches. The city is home to a huge number of eateries including everything from fine dining to street food vendors. There are also plenty of bars for entertainment in the evenings. Whatever you choose to do in Iloilo, you surely won’t forget it.
In Iloilo we have a lot of unique opportunities that you won’t find anywhere else. For example we have a great two-week programme in anaesthesiology where students may observe and aid in spinal tap procedures. You’ll also discover that as this is a low-resource setting, doctors prescribe medicines based on the financial capability of the patients rather than what they actually need. There may also be the opportunity to observe and treat cases of hypertension and cardiac arrest in young people due to the amount of sugar in the Filipino diet.
To complement your placement in Iloilo’s comparatively busy city hospitals, we’re offering you the chance to get out of town to live and work in a remote setting, helping you understand the bigger picture. You’ll stay on an offshore island with our hosts from the Ati tribe whose house is inhabited by a sizeable family that includes a number of excitable children and the occasional stray duck. The healthcare placement is comprised of five busy mornings working in both a small rural healthcare centre and an under-resourced district hospital. In the afternoons you’ll join in a number of activities covering everything from barbecues to island hopping and beyond.
Sri Lanka - Kandy
Sri Lanka is home to a population of welcoming and inclusive people. It has stunning natural beauty, and has a link to an ancient system of healthcare that is over 5000 years old. As a result of the caste system doctors here are greatly respected, but you’ll still have to prove your worth on the wards if you want opportunities to present themselves. Medical students in Sri Lanka will come across unique cases such as Dengue fever and Typhoid, and observe and treat injuries from a surprising number of road traffic accidents.
The city of Kandy is nothing short of amazing. From a cultural perspective there are temples (one of which is said to hold the Buddha’s tooth!), incredible and diverse cuisine, UNESCO World Heritage sites and more. If you’re the kind of person who leans into adventure, you’ll enjoy jungle trekking, surfing, rafting, swimming with dolphins, whale watching, sea turtle spotting, elephant tracking, and more. If you prefer the idea of rest and relaxation, there are magnificent beaches all around the island. In Sri Lanka there is something for everyone.
In Kandy medical students have a broad range of subspecialties to choose from. It’s possible to work across a number of departments including oncology, ICU, OBG, general medicine, general surgery and more. The key to getting the most from your placement here is throwing yourself into it. The more you’re able to show your skills and enthusiasm, the more opportunities will present themselves to you. Again, the caste system affords a special respect to doctors, but it’s up to you what you do with it.
Sri Lanka is the only programme we run that offers this experience. In that respect, and many others, this is an entirely unique opportunity. Living with a host family you’ll learn to craft ancient medicines from plants and barks and then administer them to patients under the guidance of an Ayurveda, or ‘tree medicine’, master. In the afternoons you’ll canoe down rivers, go swimming at sunset in the lake, and receive rejuvenating treatments in an Ayurveda spa. There won’t be many times in your life when an opportunity such as this makes itself known. We recommend you take the chance while you can.
Ghana - Takoradi
Ghana is our longest running programme and today it delivers a more exciting placement than ever before. For starters the west coast of Africa is magnificent; white sand beaches lined with palm trees, small fishing villages, ageing forts dotted up and down the coast, and more. The city of Takoradi where our private house is based is a busy centre of Ghanaian culture – exotic food, bustling markets, a selection of bars and restaurants, locals wearing beautiful traditional clothing, to name but a few elements. As a medic here you’ll enjoy a varied placement with access to departments like NICU and orthopaedics among others.
Ghana is a glimmering jewel on Africa’s west coast. You’ll be able to head straight to the beach after a day on the wards, and unwind with a cocktail in front of the sunset as you watch the ships come into port. You can also go on incredible forest canopy walks, swim in the Volta region’s famous waterfalls that pour into one another, visit a leper colony, see elephants in Mole game park, explore the country’s rubber plantations, and a whole lot more.
Ghana is an excellent choice for any medic. You’ll gain real insight into the extent of adaptation required to deal with such a profound lack of resources. Not only this, but you’ll also have the choice of working across a range of departments including NICU, orthopaedics, emergency, OBG, and more. There is also an HIV clinic that attracts around 400 people a week in which you can participate. If you show enthusiasm, the specialists you’ll interact with, including your supervisors, will be very keen to get you involved from day one.
This is a very real experience that will show you what life in a typical African village is like. Staying with our welcoming host family, you’ll be fully immersed in local culture. The area’s beauty is straight out of a storybook; imagine long stretches of tropical beaches with no tourists for miles around. On the clinical side of things you’ll work in a nearby community pharmacy, learn about traditional herbal medicine, and treat patients in an extremely low-resource setting. This is the perfect opportunity to expand your elective and come home with a completely new perspective.
Peru - Arequipa
Peru is the most recent addition to our already extraordinary line-up of destinations, and it’s already proving incredibly popular. Here you’ll have the chance to hike up mountains to visit the remains of an ancient city, trek through the Amazon jungle, dance in the colourful festivals that take place in Arequipa where we’re based, boat across ancient lakes and more. Medical students who choose Arequipa will have access to some of Peru’s best and brightest to show them how medicine is practiced in such an under resourced setting.
There’s simply no question that Peru is one of the most beautiful places in South America, if not the world. Our base in the city of Arequipa has the added benefit of experiencing 300 days of sun every year. Take the chance to stare straight down into the planet’s second deepest canyon, explore rustic villages on the banks of Lake Titicaca, stroll along the narrow streets of San Camillo market, trek to the famous Incan mountaintop citadel known as Machu Picchu, and more. In the evenings there is an enormous selection of eateries and bars for you to unwind in after a long day.
The hospital we’re partnered with offers exceptional placement opportunities for medics in Arequipa. You’ll see everything from dermatological conditions caused by the city’s high altitude, to injuries resulting from domestic violence – an example of a negative expression of the social factors that underlie many ailments. There are also a number of specialists working in the hospital whose knowledge and expertise you’ll be encouraged to draw from. Due to a lack of adequate sanitation facilities, you’ll also see cases of respiratory and endocrine disorders such as TB, tetanus and other digestive complaints.
Our intensive Spanish course (focused specifically on medicine), has been designed to help you get the most from your hospital placement. You'll enjoy an entire week of lessons comprised of one-to-one sessions taught in the school’s beautiful garden, and afternoon clinical role-play sessions simulating situations that will likely occur on placement. You’ll also go out and about in the city to practice what you’ve learned. No boring grammar drills, just fun, practical language learning that you can use right away.
From our blog
It's tough deciding what to do and where to go for your elective placement. The sheer number of options can be overwhelming. We've laid out the benefits of an elective at home vs. an elective overseas to help make the decision that little bit easier.Read more
Four times a year we hold a competition that affords one lucky student the chance to go on an overseas elective placement absolutely free. We’re now happy to announce the first winner of 2015 - Emily Payne from the University of Liverpool!Read more