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 the experience 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
Book with confidence
It’s official - overseas placements have been given the go-ahead and our programmes are open!
Plans can change, so once you’ve secured your space, you can make unlimited changes to your travel dates, absolutely free.
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
- Patients who can’t afford even the most basic treatment
- Extremely late presentations and advanced conditions
You also have flexibility when it comes to shift patterns as the majority of our partner hospitals are open 24/7, so you can undertake days shifts, night shifts, or both.
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.
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.
The service you get with us is end-to-end. That means we will support you before, during and even after your trip.
- 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.
Indonesia - Yogyakarta
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On your medical elective in Yogyakarta, you’ll see patients from all walks of life. Healthcare is free for patients with the least money, and others pay a monthly fee. But even for patients who receive free healthcare, getting to hospital is costly, and can mean missing days of paid work. Patients delay treatment because of this expense, so you’ll see a lot of late presentations and severe conditions. Severe conditions and a limitation on resources mean that clinical practices are very different from what you’re used to in the UK.
Sri Lanka - Kandy
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In Kandy, you can undertake your medical placement in a government teaching hospital, or a more specialist paediatric institute. The teaching hospital is vast, housing eleven special units, seven ICU's and 23 theatres. The hospital serves an area with a population of around 2.5 million potential patients, so you can expect consistently high patient numbers. The specialised paediatric hospital has an exceptional national reputation. The hospital admits paediatric cases from newborn to 16-years old, so you can see everything from premature babies to complex paediatric surgeries. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Kandy.
Ghana - Takoradi
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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 Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Takoradi.
Philippines - Iloilo
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All aspects of our electives for medical students in Iloilo guarantee 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 have to 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. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Iloilo.
Tanzania - Dar es Salaam
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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 communicable disease outbreaks, but like none you’ve seen before — cholera, cerebral malaria, and tuberculosis are very real issues. We offer several medical placements in Africa, and Dar es Salaam should be on your list. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Dar es Salaam.
Mexico - Merida
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On your medical elective in Mexico, you can undertake your placement in a modern, high speciality government hospital, an under-resourced general hospital, a specialist psychiatric hospital, or all three if you have time. In the former, you’ll see that specialist care takes precedence, meaning state-of-the-art equipment and a focus on the patient. By contrast, the general hospital is badly under-resourced and has a low doctor to patient ratio. It’s worth noting that this hospital hosts the A&E through which the majority of the city’s emergency medicine cases are routed. Medical electives in Latin America don't get any better than this.
Vietnam - Hue
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In Hue, you will undertake your medical placement in a 600-bed university teaching hospital. 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 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..
Zambia - Lusaka
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As a medical student, elective opportunities in Lusaka have broad appeal. You can get experience in no less than four specialist hospitals. Situated on one campus, you will have access to the cancer and diseases hospital, the adult hospital, the paediatric medicine hospital, and the women and newborn hospital. Each area offers utterly unique experiences, but have low-resources, lack of staff, and high numbers of patients in common. The fallout of an HIV epidemic during the 1990s adds extra strain on the already stretched staff. If you’re looking for a medical elective in Africa, Lusaka might just be for you.
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 medicine specialties 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. Read stories from those who’ve already been on a medical placement abroad to Kathmandu.
Nepal - Pokhara
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As a medical student in Pokhara, you can undertake your placement in a private teaching hospital, a medical college, or a large regional hospital. Patient fees are subsidised by the government in the teaching hospitals, but even with this subsidisation, patients from economically disadvantaged backgrounds (which is most of them) still struggle to pay. You may also see the practise of traditional medicine in Pokhara, patients taking medications to be blessed by local shaman for example. As an aside, in one of the teaching hospitals, you can accompany doctors on outreach trips to primary healthcare clinics out in the local community. When it comes to medical electives in Nepal, Pokhara offers extraordinary experiences. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Pokhara.
Cambodia - Phnom Penh
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On your elective in Cambodia, you can spend time in either a national paediatric hospital, a hospital built by the Soviet Union, or both. There has been a push to modernise the practise of medicine in Cambodia, but you will see how both traditional and religious beliefs still affect the provision of care. What’s more, equipment is ageing and resources are limited, meaning doctors often have to rely on their clinical judgement to diagnose patients. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Phnom Penh.
"I saw a lot of cases of malnutrition and malaria while I was on those wards, which you definitely don’t see in Belgium."
Sofie Vanhoudt, KU Leuven 2021Read more
"Vietnam has taught me that I can always be better. The medical student I was when I passed my finals, simply was not good enough to survive in the big bad world".
Ben Ward, Dundee University 2020Read more
"On the infectious diseases ward the pattern of presentations was very different to the UK."
Alice Hanton, University of Leeds 2020Read more
"There were stark differences when it came to confidentiality, privacy and dignity."
Jennifer Pilling, Manchester Metropolitan University 2019Read more
"There was another case which had both an unusual presentation and resourceful management."
Ugonna Onwuchekwa, University of Central Lancashire 2019Read more
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 countries can I travel to on a Work the World medical elective?
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.