by Joe Jamieson

If you haven't already, you're probably in the process of choosing which branch of nursing you want to focus on, be that adult, child, learning disability, or mental health nursing.

But if you decide to undertake your elective in a low-resource healthcare system overseas, you can go off-branch and get experience in any or all of the other areas of nursing if your university permits it.

This is your chance to get a breadth of experience (and the associated benefits) that you won’t get if you stick to what you know.

Scroll down to find out what you can expect to gain from stepping out of your comfort zone and going off-branch during your overseas nursing elective.


Why go off-branch at all?


To say that going off-branch during your elective could change your life is not an overstatement. You’ll grow tremendously as a nurse and as a person if you spend time getting experience in departments that lie outside of your area of study. Step out of your comfort zone and you’ll get an intimate understanding of your strengths and weaknesses.

Explore different areas of nursing and you’ll discover new passions and develop new skills that help you become a more well-rounded and adaptable person.

Going off-branch during your nursing elective has longer-term benefits too. Potential employers will value your diverse experience and ability to adapt to new environments.

Here’s a good way to look at it — you undertake an elective overseas to see what nursing is like in an unfamiliar healthcare system. You’ll see new cultures, unfamiliar practices, and conditions you’ve only read about. All of this broadens your horizons, giving you a more varied perspective on nursing, and making you more attractive to employers.

Now, imagine how much more impressive your CV will be if you can also show you’ve explored other areas of nursing.


What can you expect to experience in each branch?

Social Media - Katie Harper

Travel with us and you’ll get an experience that’s tailored to you. You’ll speak with our expert team about your goals and interests and they’ll build your elective placement to suit you. You can choose a single area of focus or mix and match, depending on how long you want your placement to be.

Here are some ideas of what you might experience within each nursing branch. Keep in mind that this also depends on the destination you choose to travel to.


Adult nursing

Jones, CharlotteAccess to healthcare can vary greatly between destinations, with some places relying heavily on families to provide bedside care, due to a lack of resources.

You may also notice that patients have very little privacy, with multiple patients often sharing a bed. In some areas, traditional herbal medicine is used instead of modern techniques, and back-to-basics care such as manual intubation without analgesia may be the norm.

Due to a lack of disposable equipment, a lot of equipment is sterilised and reused. But even though they may not have the most modern equipment or follow techniques you’re used to, local staff still make sure patients receive the highest level of care possible.

Adult Nursing


Child nursing

Social Media - Alexandra May - @alexandramay298 Low-resource healthcare systems impose unique challenges on local nurses. Challenges that you won't typically encounter in the NHS.

In these places, there are often a greater number of malnourished children than you see in the UK, as well as high numbers of children with severe burns. You may also encounter more instances of neonatal sepsis than you would at home.

You’ll see that paediatric wards are often overcrowded, and limited staff to care for the many patients. And in some cases, families are even required to supply equipment such as saline and bandages for their children, highlighting the resource scarcity in these settings.

Child Nursing


Learning disability nursing 

NursingWhen it comes to special education, the resources available vary greatly from country to country. Under-resourced schools are the norm, and in these environments, you might find that staff aren’t able to offer the support children with disabilities need to thrive. One of the reasons these schools are underfunded is that attitudes towards disabilities can differ significantly between cultures.

Religious beliefs can play a significant role in the care provided to those with disabilities, which you might find confronting. All of these factors contribute to a vastly different experience for people with disabilities and their families when compared with the UK.

LD Nursing


Mental health nursing

NursingSome countries are decades behind the UK in terms of mental health awareness and practice. Undertake your nursing elective in one of these destinations and you’ll see what under-resourced psychiatric departments (if they exist at all) and a lack of treatment options means for patients.

As you might expect, there are often social stigmas attached to mental illnesses in the destinations we operate in. This makes it difficult for people to seek help in the first instance.

As with other areas of nursing in low-resource healthcare settings, privacy, as it relates to mental healthcare, is often at a minimum. You may even see consultations taking place in front of other patients. Depending on which destination you choose to travel to, you could see the widespread use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) — not something you’ll see in the UK.

Mental health Nursing


Now’s your chance to do something different


An overseas nursing elective gives you the rare opportunity to share the skills and knowledge from your experience in the UK with equally dedicated nurses overseas. And it works both ways — if you keep an open mind, you’ll pick up techniques and perspectives that change your own approach to nursing.

Undertaking a nursing elective in a low-resource healthcare system can be an enriching experience that can provide you with a range of unique challenges and opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Embrace this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and become a more versatile, adaptable, and compassionate nurse as a result.


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Find out what your dream overseas elective could look like by exploring our huge range of exotic destinations.

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