WHY UNDERTAKE A MIDWIFERY ELECTIVE ABROAD?

A midwifery elective abroad is your opportunity to undertake a placement in an under-resourced, but fast-paced hospital setting in a developing country.

Your placement is customisable. That means you choose where you want to travel and what you want to do clinically — OBG, NICU, pre or postnatal care, labour wards…. You name it.

As you get insight into midwifery abroad, you could see limited prenatal care resulting in birthing complications, learn how a lack of funding impacts the quality of care (many women give birth without pain-relief) and encounter fascinating sociocultural beliefs surrounding childbirth.

THE CLINICAL EXPERIENCE

This kind of clinical placement is centred on gaining perspective through new experiences. You’ll quickly learn that things we take for granted, like woman-centred care, are luxuries found only in the wealthiest healthcare systems.

Some of the realities you’ll observe could include:

  • Episiotomies being performed as a first resort
  • Distinct lack of privacy for labouring women
  • Surprising cultural attitudes towards childbirth
  • No available pain relief throughout the birthing process

You will also see major differences in the fundamentals of midwifery too. For example, in some of our destinations, applying fundal pressure is a common practise and regarded as safe.

You spend Monday to Friday in your placement hospital — you’ll use evenings and weekends to explore whichever destination you choose to visit.

 

WHAT’S INCLUDED?

Our service is end-to-end. That means we will you total support both before, and throughout the course of your trip.

Our service covers everything, which relieves the pressures of planning something as involved as a midwifery elective placement.

With us, you’ll get:

A tailored elective in your choice of departments | Comprehensive pre-trip preparation | 24/7 in-country support team | Private, catered accommodation | Airport pickup

Arrivals are on Sundays, and our programmes are open year round. That means you can travel whenever suits you. The minimum placement duration is two weeks.

For a more detailed step-by-step guide to how our service works, click here.

TRAVEL OPPORTUNITIES

Your hospital placement is certainly the focus of your experience. But you get plenty of time in the evening and at weekends to experience the country and local culture.

You might be a solo traveller, or you prefer to spend your time in a group. Either way, weekend trips are a highlight. From trekking through the Himalayan mountains to whitewater rafting down the Zambezi, you have every possible chance for adventure.

WHERE DO I START?

Start by speaking to our team. They’re the experts and will answer your questions, help you pick a destination, and secure your space on your midwifery placement abroad.

To start a conversation about your midwifery elective placement, use the short form at the bottom of the page, or click the green enquire now button.

DESTINATIONS

Mexico - Merida
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Our partner hospital in Merida deals exclusively with infant paediatric cases and expectant mothers. On a midwifery elective placement here, you’ll encounter busy wards with a limited number of beds — very different to what you’re used to back at home. The high patient numbers mean local specialists have to be  particularly resourceful. Because of this you’ll see techniques and practises you’ve never seen before. This becomes especially interesting when dealing with intrapartum complications, like breech births.

Vietnam - Hue
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The institution we’re partnered with in Hue, Vietnam is the largest university teaching hospital in the region. From day one, you’ll get amazing experience alongside specialists and learn how they handle the lack of resources in this low-resource clinical setting. Supervised by local midwives, you’ll spend time in the OBG department getting involved in and all areas of maternal and infant paediatric care. From a cultural point of view, Vietnamese people observe some fascinating traditions surrounding birth. For example, some believe that making a fuss of a new born baby, or complementing the mother, attracts bad spirits and therefore bad luck.

Zambia - Lusaka
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At our partner hospital in Lusaka, you’ll see many births every day. You’ll get involved in both pre and postnatal care, see emergency labours like breech births, and assist treating HIV positive mothers, mothers with malnutrition, and a host of other complications. Preterm babies for example, or mother to child transmission of HIV, and preeclampsia. There is a lack of education around childbirth in Lusaka. Some first time mothers don’t even know when they’re going to labour. You’ll also see conditions arising from a lack of prenatal care, which is totally different to what you’re used to back home.

Cambodia - Phnom Penh
Monk in Angkor Wat Cambodia. Ta Prohm Khmer ancient Buddhist temple in jungle forest
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Your midwifery elective in Cambodia will highlight the sometimes harsh realities faced by midwives in the developing world. You’ll see local staff have to get creative with the limited resources at their disposal. Birthing complications are relatively common, as are mothers with HIV. HIV brings unique complications when it comes to pregnancy and birth. On a placement here you can access the theatres to see C-sections, hysterectomies, and other gynaecological surgeries being performed. It will surprise you to learn that less than 5% of women giving birth will receive pain relief. 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

Sri Lanka - Kandy
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On your midwifery elective placement in Kandy, you can rotating through wards like antenatal, postnatal and the premature baby unit. Complicated birthing procedures are relatively common here, and terminations and miscarriages are often handled differently to how you might be used to at home. Something else that will stand out to you is how patient numbers often exceed available bed space. This really highlights how a lack of resources has a material impact on the care local women get. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Kandy.

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Sri Lanka - Anuradhapura
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On a midwifery elective here, you’ll come across a range of interesting local practices. Caesarean sections for example, make up 40% of all births and have an entire ward dedicated to them. The lack of pain relief used in labour is another of the many practical differences you’ll encounter, all of which will enrich your understanding of the field. In Sri Lanka, labour complications are more common than in the UK. Worsening matters, the hospital’s resources are incredibly limited. That said, the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the local midwives means that patients still receive the best possible care. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Anuradhapura.

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Tanzania - Dar es Salaam
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Learning about midwifery in Dar es Salaam direct from local midwives allows you to see everything from postnatal care to complicated surgical births. On a midwifery placement here, you’ll learn things you wouldn’t have imagined from both local midwives and resident Tanzanian students. You can visit a ward dedicated to mothers with HIV. This will highlight for you the reality of this epidemic in the developing world. You’ll be humbled by how well local midwives are able to care for both mothers and babies in spite of the scarcity of resources they’re up against. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Dar es Salaam.

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Ghana - Takoradi
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On your midwifery elective placement in Takoradi, you'll see just how our partner hospital’s lack of resources means limited care for patients. For example, prenatal care is a luxury for only a small number of women. Add to that cultural traditions surrounding birth, and you'll find the experience eye-opening. That said, you’ll also see how local midwives do everything they can for mothers and babies, relying sometimes on their skills alone. On your placement here you’ll experience a typical Ghanaian maternity clinic, covering everything from antenatal and postnatal care, to vaccinations and circumcisions. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Takoradi.

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Philippines - Iloilo
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On a midwifery elective here, you’ll get direct experience with the local delivery team. You can rotate through any area you choose. To give you some idea, you can spend time in  reproductive endocrinology, gynaecologic oncology, and cervical pathology. You’ll have enormous flexibility of choice with our partner hospital. The hospital has a high patient load, and that often means patients sharing beds. This is the kind of impact a lack of resources has on the delivery of care. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Iloilo.

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Nepal - Kathmandu
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On your elective placement in Kathmandu, you’re supervised by local midwives keen to share their knowledge and skills. The ward you’re on delivers a high number of babies, so you get real experience seeing how it’s done in Nepal. You also spend time in the post-natal and post-operative wards (if they’re of interest to you). HIV is prevalent here, and presents a challenge for many breast-feeding infants. For example, many local mothers still believe that their babies are more likely to die from a lack of breastfeeding than from the virus itself. This means mothers with HIV often still breastfeed. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Kathmandu.

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Nepal - Pokhara
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In our partner hospital in Pokhara, you’ll be placed in a busy maternity department. The department sees many deliveries per day. You can also join the twice-weekly antenatal clinics that assist hundreds of women. The department has a post-natal unit, and a pre-eclampsia and eclampsia unit. If you’re interested, one of the perks of this placement is being able to observe in theatre, making it a great elective placement for student midwives. Surgeries you might see include abdominal and vaginal hysterectomies, laparotomies, emergency and planned caesarean sections, and myomectomies. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Pokhara.

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Peru - Arequipa
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Our partner hospital in Arequipa is government run. This setting lets you get experience with mothers from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Many have experienced problems pre-delivery, or during birth in a clinic. Spending time in one of these primary care clinics lets you see how local staff handle things like dilation control, psychoprophylaxis, and normal deliveries. Speaking of local staff, there’s something unique about a placement in Arequipa. Your clinical supervisors are called 'obstetras', who are between a doctor and a midwife in terms of their clinical skills in OBG. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Arequipa.

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"I am so incredibly proud of myself for grabbing this experience with both hands and going for it."

Megan Smith, Canterbury Christ Church University 2019

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"Grab this opportunity with both hands and go for it, I promise you’ll regret it if you don’t"

Laura Evans, Birmingham City University 2019

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"Doctors put almost every labouring woman on a drug that helps contractions, even if they were already contracting well naturally."

Karla Torrisi, Australian Catholic University 2019

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"Seeing midwives manage a primary postpartum haemorrhage with the bare minimum was amazing."

Georgina Corbett, University of the West of England (UWE) 2018

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"Work the World make it so easy and the take the stress out of the planning."

Stacy Mackintosh, Teesside University 2018

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What is a midwifery elective?

A midwifery elective is a clinical placement that midwifery students undertake as part of their degree. Every year, more and more midwifery students are doing their midwifery electives overseas. To create your own customised midwifery elective, get in touch with us today.

Can midwives travel?

Yes, midwives can travel. If you are studying towards a midwifery degree (or your a recent graduate), you’re eligible for an international midwifery elective with us. Get in touch today to explore your options.

How long is a midwifery elective?

A midwifery elective is as long as you want it to be. Our minimum placement duration is 2 weeks, but students typically travel on their midwifery electives for 4 weeks. There is no upper limit to how long you can travel for.

What are the most popular countries for midwifery electives?

Our most popular countries for midwifery 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 midwifery elective?

The benefits of a midwifery 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