WHY UNDERTAKE YOUR MEDICAL ELECTIVE ABROAD?

On a medical elective abroad, you’ll hone your clinical skills in a challenging hospital setting in Africa, Asia, or Latin America.

In a fast-paced clinical environment, you will see a diversity of advanced and unfamiliar cases, observe practises that will challenge your knowledge, and learn how sociocultural factors impact the provision of care.

You are in complete control of your experience. You choose the destination to which you want to travel and the departments through which you want to rotate. We guarantee your department choices well in advance of your trip.

We provide you with detailed information such that you can plan your medical elective abroad down to the finest detail.

FLEXIBILITY AND CHOICE

You get an exceptional breadth of choice when it comes to the choosing hospitals and departments.

We have partnerships with teaching hospitals, regional hospitals, large government hospitals, tertiary referral centres, specialist hospitals, and even small rural health posts.

Departments you can choose to rotate through include (but are not limited to) general medicine, surgery, A&E, ICUs, anaesthesiology, OBG, and paediatrics. But there are big opportunities in more specialist areas like cardiology, neurology and oncology.

If you would like to request additional information about the broad range of specialist areas we cover, please use the short form at the bottom of this page.

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

Typical placement durations are between four and eight weeks, (we offer a minimum of two weeks) and arrivals are every Sunday — you can travel whenever is most convenient for you.

WHAT WE OFFER

The service we offer is based on certainty and stability — plan a medical placement abroad through us and your experience on the ground will precisely reflect it.

You will tap into our established infrastructure, including the in-person relationships we have with hospitals around the world. This allows us to make certain guarantees such as your hospital placement, supervision, choice of departments, and we provide detailed information on all of the above.

That said, we offer an exceptional level of flexibility should you want to amend your choices. This allows you to tailor your experience, creating the best medical elective for your individual interests.

Basic inclusions that are part of every medicine elective:

  • A dedicated (UK-based) placement coordinator
  • English-speaking in-hospital supervision
  • A 24/7 in-country support team
  • Private, catered accommodation

For more detail about particular aspects of our service, please contact us using the short form at the bottom of this page or click the green enquire now button.

BEYOND YOUR PLACEMENT

Depending on the shifts you want to take, your clinical placement typically runs from Monday to Friday. This leaves your evenings and weekends free to explore whichever destination you choose to visit.

Some examples include hiking through the Himalayan Mountains, going on safari on the Tanzanian plains, exploring Cambodia’s vast Buddhist temples,  or simply enjoying paradise beaches on the coast of Sri Lanka.

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Our team of Elective Consultants offer expert advice on any and all aspects of our electives for medical students. Their expertise will help you find the best place for your medical elective.

Get in touch using the short enquiry form.

DESTINATIONS

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, or both. 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.

Vietnam - Hue
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In Hue, you will undertake your 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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In Lusaka, you can get a breadth of 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.

Cambodia - Phnom Penh
Monk in Angkor Wat Cambodia. Ta Prohm Khmer ancient Buddhist temple in jungle forest
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On your elective in Cambodia, you can spend time in a military hospital, a national paediatric hospital, a hospital built by the Soviet Union, and a hospital originally built to treat Buddhist monks. 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. 

Monk in Angkor Wat Cambodia. Ta Prohm Khmer ancient Buddhist temple in jungle forest

Philippines - Iloilo
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In Iloilo, we offer unique medical electives. 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. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Iloilo.

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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.

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Peru - Arequipa
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Arequipa offers excellent electives for medical students. You can undertake your placement in the oldest hospital in Southern Peru, a government tertiary hospital, or in one of five ‘Micro Redes’ clinics designed to relieve pressure on hospitals by delivering primary care (unique to our programme in Arequipa). Patients are, predominantly, from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, but healthcare is government funded. In spite of this, hospitals are overcrowded and resources are scarce. This makes conditions like influenza, much more of a threat than they are in the UK. If you’re looking for a medical elective in South America, Arequipa should be on your list. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Arequipa. 

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

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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 travelled with us to Kathmandu.

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Sri Lanka - Kandy
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In Kandy, you can undertake your 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.

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Nepal - Pokhara
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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.

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Sri Lanka - Anuradhapura
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In Anuradhapura, you’ll undertake your placement in one of the largest teaching hospitals in Sri Lanka and the only tertiary care hospital in the entire northern region. Here you will see how socioeconomic factors have a profound impact on cases. For example, there is a renal failure epidemic affecting local farming communities. The suspected cause is toxic pesticides making their way into the community’s water supplies. For context, queues of patients waiting for dialysis in the hospital’s renal unit stretch down the corridors, daily. As far as medical electives in Sri Lanka go, Anuradhapura offers exceptional insight. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Anuradhapura.

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"It has made me appreciate the healthcare in the UK more and I have improved many of my practical skills too!"

Alicia Munro, University of Southampton 2019

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"One thing I found challenging was the lack of use of local anaesthetic before spinal anaesthesia."

Saachi Chhaya, University of Nottingham 2019

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"I had many preconceptions about what medicine in a Sri Lanka would be like. Most of them turned out not to be true."

Anthony Green, University of Warwick 2019

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"I started off in haematology and oncology in the high speciality hospital, which was really interesting."

Eloise Hamon, Cardiff University 2019

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"If you keep an open mind and accept that the culture is different, you will have an amazing time!"

Rita Luz, St George's, University of London 2019

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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.

How long is a medical elective?

A medical elective is as long as you want it to be. Our minimum placement duration is 2 weeks, 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 are some popular countries for a medical elective?

Our most popular countries for medical electives are (in no particular order):

1. Tanzania

2. Zambia

3. Vietnam

4. Cambodia

5. Peru

6. Mexico

7. Ghana

8. The Philippines

9. Nepal

10. Sri Lanka

What are the benefits of a medical elective?

The benefits of a medical elective 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 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 in the UK
  • Conditions arising from socioeconomic issues, like pesticide-induced renal failure (at epidemic levels)