by Joe Jamieson

Travel Experiences

Hamzavizarghani, Hiva

It probably feels like you’ve got all the time in the world until your elective hits. But it’s always the same with these things, and a year turns into six months, turns into six weeks…

Then bam — you’re frantically searching for last-minute elective options, cursing yourself for not having sorted it sooner.

If you’re already right down to the wire, we can probably still help you plan something. We might not be able to guarantee you your first choice of destination, but get in touch using the short form at the bottom of this page and someone from our team will get back to you with your options.

If on the other hand you do have a bit of time left, it’s probably time to start making decisions about what you want to do and where you want to go.

Should I stay or should I go?

Hamzavizarghani, Hiva

You have two basic choices —

  • You can find an elective placement locally in the UK
  • You can grab the opportunity with both hands and use your elective period to travel

There’s nothing wrong with staying at home — you’ll still experience new things.

But if you stay at home:

  • You won’t get to swim in waterfalls
  • You won’t get to sip cocktails on white sandy beaches
  • You won’t get to see lions on safari
  • You won’t get to go paragliding through the Himalayas

It’s the same story with your experience on placement. If you stay at home, you won’t get to see what it’s like to be a healthcare professional in a critically underfunded healthcare system.

You won’t see unfamiliar conditions. You won’t see how local culture and beliefs change how staff treat patients. And you won’t see practices that challenge what you’ve learned in the UK.

On the other hand, a placement in a low-resource hospital halfway around the world is a brand new life experience.

And this is why you should walk through the door -

Hamzavizarghani, Hiva

The thing with chances is they have a way of passing you by. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.

You might ask yourself if another chance like this is going to present itself any time soon. Is this window of opportunity the last one you’re going to see for a while?

Seems like a no-brainer, right?

Maybe. But there are other things to consider.

And the first thing on your mind is cost. We’re not going to pretend that travelling to a country on the other side of the world is cheap — it isn’t. But it is worth it.

Especially if you choose to travel with us (we offer unique value for money and you can read more about that here -Are Work the World Placements Good Value?)

Big reasons to travel -


The point of your elective is to get clinical experience that you wouldn’t otherwise get on your other placements.

But if we’re being honest, the idea of travelling to another country - one you might not get the chance to see again - is the exciting bit.

With us, you can choose a destination based on the kind of experience you want.

Adrenaline junkie? Head to Nepal for trekking and paragliding in the Himalayan Mountains.

Prefer the idea of relaxing on a beach and exploring the jungles? The Philippines Archipelago with white-sand coastline and lush green rainforests is for you.

If you’re a foodie — the cuisine in Sri Lanka is some of the best on the planet. Dhal curries, egg hopper pancakes and fish ambul thiyal are all on the menu.

If you’d prefer to spend time out on the savannah with lions, rhino, giraffe and wildebeest, then it’s our programme in Tanzania for you.

The long and short of it is that if you travel with us, we’ll help you create whatever travel experience you can dream up.

But an overseas elective isn’t merely travel. Yes, you’ll get to see the sights, but you also have the chance to immerse yourself in local culture.

Shed your tourist mentality

Hamzavizarghani, Hiva

On a trip like this you’ll get to understand what life is like for local people by experiencing it for yourself.

The teams in the Work the World houses are all hired locally. They know everything there is to know about the local area and the country, more broadly speaking.

They can answer any and all of your questions — they speak English too, so things won’t get lost in translation.

Speaking of which, you’ll have language lessons in the house twice a week. You’ll learn everything you need to know to help you get to know local people. But we won’t teach you any of that stuffy, overly-formal business language you learned in secondary school.

Instead you’ll get practical tips on how to speak like local people do, so you don’t sound like you just stepped off the plane (even if you have).

You’ll eat local dishes cooked up by the house catering team, learn about local culture and customs… we’ve set things up to help you settle in and then immerse yourself when you feel ready.

And if you need a break from the hustle and bustle of local life, you’ve got space to hit pause while you’re in the Work the World house.

Then there’s your placement hospital

Upton, Chloe

Your placement hospital will feel like another world when you first walk through the doors. This is completely normal.

But you’ll quickly find your stride. After a hospital orientation to help you settle in, local staff will welcome you into their teams.

SEe things you’ll never see back home

HUE DESTINATION PAGE - clinical images

If you do your placement at home, you’ll quickly hit the limits of personal development. We hear this from students all the time. And it makes sense, because even if you’re training in a different NHS trust, the conditions and treatments seen in the same country can only be so different.

But if you do your elective overseas, you’ll see that everything is different.

You might see tropical diseases like dengue fever, learn how local staff manage to treat patients with a tiny fraction of the NHS budget, and see what happens when religious beliefs clash with best practice.

Patients in the developing world often present late too. So you’ll see advanced-stage conditions that will surprise you even if you already have plenty of clinical experience.

You can read more about the kinds of things you’ll see on an overseas placement. Choose your discipline to get started.

Get in while you can

Students in Destination

Another reason you need to make a decision sooner rather than later is because places fill up. And they fill up fast.

The reason being that we have a strict limit on the number of places we allocate each year.

Our partner hospitals are full, working hospitals. So it wouldn’t do to have too many non-local healthcare students and professionals there at any one time.

We want to have a purely positive impact on the hospitals and communities in which we’re based, so we limit numbers. That means the spaces we do have are sought after. 

You can read more about the benefits of booking early in our post: Benefits of Booking Early

Time to choose

Rebekah Morris (MORRIS22977)

Again, there’s nothing wrong with undertaking a placement at home. For some it’s the only option.

But people who travel with us tell us over and again that new perspectives are crucial to broadening your development as a healthcare professional. This is especially true as the conversation around global health gets louder.

So not only will travelling for your elective help your CV stand out in the short term, it’ll also help future-proof your career.

If you've realised that now is your chance and want to explore your options, get in touch using the form at the bottom of the page. One of our expert consultants will run you through what’s possible based on your interests.

Read more about our elective placements

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