Boost your career on a medical elective abroad

Go on a once-in-a-lifetime medical elective abroad with Work the World and you’ll get career-boosting clinical experience in an overseas hospital. Then in your free time, you’ll have life-changing travel experiences with new friends.

You are in total control — you tell us what you want to experience and we'll tailor your overseas elective to your specific interests. You choose everything from the destination right down to the individual departments you want to get experience in.

You’ll find your medical elective to be life-changing. And that’s true whether you’re undertaking an elective for medical students or graduates.

Why go on a medical placement abroad?

  • Unique experience that puts you ahead of your peers
  • Stand out to employers
  • Strengthen your academic profile
  • Build a network to tap into during your career
  • Gain perspective that reframes your view of the NHS
  • Boost confidence by stepping out of your comfort zone
  • Get inspiration around where you might specialise

"Patients often had late stage disease, and their conditions more complex... it was staggering." - Ben, Dundee University
Read more medical reviews here

Eye-opening clinical Placement

You can choose from a huge range of hospitals and departments on your medical placement abroad.

On your medical student elective you can spend time in teaching hospitals, regional hospitals, large government hospitals, tertiary referral centres, specialist hospitals, small rural health posts...

As a medical student, elective opportunities are abundant in departments like general medicine, surgery, A&E, ICUs, anaesthesiology, OBG, and paediatrics. And there are big opportunities in more specialist areas like cardiology, neurology and oncology.

Some things you will observe on your medical student elective include:

  • Different cultural attitudes towards care
  • Religious beliefs affecting practice
  • Extremely late presentations and advanced conditions

You also have flexibility when it comes to shift patterns during your medical elective. as the majority of our partner hospitals are open 24/7, so you can undertake days shifts, night shifts, or both.

Choose your speciality

Surgical team in KathmanduDo you already have an idea about where you might specialise? Rather than getting experience across a range of departments, you can spend your placement focusing on one particular department or speciality.

You can choose from specialities including:

  • Plastic and reconstructive surgery
  • Gastroenterology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Paeds & paediatric surgery
  • Urology
  • ENT
  • Anaesthetics
  • + More

Tap into our hospital partnerships

Our long-established international hospital partnerships let us tailor your placement down to a level of detail that would be impossible if you were trying to organise your trip independently.

The partnerships also allow us to guarantee things like your hospital placement, supervision, and your choice of departments. You'll get detailed information on all of the above long before you travel.

You also get an exceptional level of flexibility should you want to amend your medical elective choices while you're abroad. All of this means you can create a placement suited perfectly to you, without the risk of your elective plans falling through.

Once-in-a-lifetime travel

As a medical student or graduate, your medical elective abroad is the focus of your trip. But your free time in the afternoons and weekends will be packed full of experiences like:

  • Relaxing on palm-lined, white-sand beaches
  • Getting close to elephants, lions and giraffes on safari
  • Swimming with curious sea turtles on warm tropical reefs
  • Hiking (or paragliding!) through the Himalayas
  • Spending a weekend hopping between paradise islands

But it's the people you share it with that really make your Work the World trip memorable. You'll live with other healthcare students and graduates in a big private house.

Learn about accommodation

What's included?

The service you get with us is end-to-end. That means we will support you before, during and even after your trip.

You'll get:

  • Fully-tailored medical placement abroad
  • English-speaking supervision
  • Private, catered accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country team
  • Airport pick up and drop off
  • + more

Arrivals are every Sunday, 52 weeks of the year — travel on your medical elective when it suits you. Durations of placements for medical students start from one week.

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Sri Lanka - Kandy
Medical Electives in Sri Lanka
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In Kandy, you can undertake your medical placement in a government teaching hospital or a more specialist paediatric institute. The vast teaching hospital houses eleven special units, seven ICUs and 23 theatres. The hospital serves an area with a population of around 2.5 million potential patients so that you can expect consistently high patient numbers. The specialised paediatric hospital has an exceptional national reputation. The hospital admits paediatric cases from newborns to 16 years old so that you can see everything from premature babies to complex paediatric surgeries.

Discover student stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Kandy.

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Medical Electives in Sri Lanka

Ghana - Takoradi
Medical Electives in Ghana
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On a medical elective in Ghana, you can undertake your placement in a district-level hospital, a dedicated maternity clinic, or the best-equipped hospital in the city. Regarding the latter, don’t be under the impression that ‘best-equipped’ means ‘well-equipped’ — medicine in Ghana is completely different to what you’ll be used to. Resources are particularly limited here, making the placement perhaps more eye-opening than some of our other programmes. That said, you’ll see how local staff work creatively to overcome these significant barriers to providing adequate care. Medical electives in Africa don't get any better than this.

Discover student stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Takoradi.

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Medical Electives in Ghana

Philippines - Iloilo
Medical Electives in The Philippines
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All aspects of our electives for medical students in Iloilo are guaranteed to be unique. You will undertake your placement in Panay Island’s largest government tertiary referral hospital and a tertiary teaching hospital. The Philippines does have a national health insurance service, but its coverage is limited (even in government hospitals). To offer some perspective, local doctors must deliver treatments and prescribe medicine based on patients’ financial solvency rather than their needs. Combine this with the fact that patients are predominantly from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and this profoundly impacts the provision of care. If you're interested in medical electives in Asia, you should add Iloilo to your shortlist.

Discover student stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Iloilo.

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Medical Electives in The Philippines

Tanzania - Dar es Salaam
Medical Electives in Tanzania
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On your medical elective in Tanzania, you can undertake your placement in a hospital well-known for maternity, an orthopaedics and traumatology institute, a well-reputed regional hospital, or the largest national referral hospital in Tanzania. Dar es Salaam is the largest city in the country, and with that comes a breadth of unique health issues. For example, economically disadvantaged areas are prone to infectious disease outbreaks, but like none you’ve seen before — cholera, cerebral malaria, and tuberculosis are significant issues. We offer several medical placements in Africa, and Dar es Salaam should be on your list.

Discover student stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Dar es Salaam.

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Medical Electives in Tanzania

Vietnam - Hue
Medical Electives in Vietnam
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You will undertake your medical placement in a 600-bed university teaching hospital in Hue. Around half of the hospital’s patients are from Vietnam’s rural, economically disadvantaged areas. For many such patients, healthcare is free. However, going to the hospital means a costly journey and sacrificing days of paid work while admitted. As a result, patients often delay the inevitable. This means extremely late presentations and severely advanced conditions. Needless to say, the medicine you’ll see practised here will be considerably different from what you’re used to.

Discover student stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Hue. 

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Medical Electives in Vietnam

Nepal - Kathmandu
Medical Electives in Nepal - Kathmandu
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On our medical electives in Kathmandu, you can undertake your placement in a major teaching hospital, a specialist maternity and women’s hospital, or a specialist children’s hospital. With 22 departments, the teaching hospital has the greatest number of medical specialities of any institution in the country. The children’s hospital is the only one of its kind in Nepal, so with 45% of the country’s population being under 15, you can expect a busy placement. Offering family planning and reproductive services to the city’s women, the women’s and maternity hospital is progressive, especially considering its cultural context.

Discover student stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Kathmandu.

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Medical Electives in Nepal - Kathmandu

"By lunchtime, I had observed three vaginal deliveries and one caesarean section. This was more than I had ever witnessed in one day in Australia on my O&G rotation."

Kelsey Buss, University of New England 2024

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"I undertook ward rounds with the consultant and assisted with examining patients. I spent time in the scanning room with one of the registrars, who explained a lot to me".

Iris Tournoy, Gent University 2024

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"You experience the cultural differences first-hand and quickly develop professional relationships with local staff"

Joseph Shaw, University of Nottingham 2024

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"A memorable case during my time in Kathmandu was a patient admitted with severe electrical burns across his arms, back, and legs."

Chinmay Sharma, James Cook University 2024

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"The biggest difference was the lack of provisions. Even though the hospital is partly funded, all patients still had to buy all medications and provisions for the doctors to treat them".

John Jenkins, University of Southampton 2023

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What do our medical electives offer?

A Work the World medical elective gives you the chance to undertake a clinical placement in the developing world. You will spend time in a low-resource hospital and see unfamiliar practices and advanced conditions. You can even choose the departments you want to rotate through. Learn more here.

What are the benefits of a Work the World medical elective?

The benefits of our medical electives include:

  • Expanding your clinical knowledge and skill set
  • Becoming more confident, independent and resourceful
  • Making yourself more attractive to employers
  • Doing some proper travelling
  • Building your personal and professional network
  • Sharpening your language and communication skills
  • Renewing your perspective on the NHS

What kind of cases will I see on a Work the World medical elective?

You will see cases like:

  • Tropical infectious diseases like malaria, dengue fever, and chikungunya
  • Advanced conditions that have been left untreated
  • A high number of cases of HIV, sickle cell and other haematological diseases
  • Much higher numbers of RTAs than you’re used to at home
  • Conditions arising from socioeconomic issues, like pesticide-induced renal failure (at epidemic levels)

How long is a Work the World medical elective?

A medical elective is as long as you want it to be. Our minimum placement duration is one week, but medical students typically travel on their medical electives for 4 - 6 weeks. There is no upper limit to how long you can travel for.

What is a medical elective?

A medical elective is a clinical placement that medical students undertake as part of their degree. Some sources suggest as many as 80% of medical students in the UK choose to travel abroad for their electives. If you want to undertake your medical elective overseas, get in touch with us today.