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. Undertaking an elective with us gives your CV a huge boost, helping you land that dream job.

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'll 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?

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

The service covers all bases, taking the stress out of planning a midwifery placement abroad.

Arrivals are every Sunday, 52 weeks of the year (you can travel whenever suits you), and durations start from one week.

YOU GET A ONE-TO-ONE SERVICE THAT INCLUDES:

  • A tailored overseas elective in your choice of departments
  • Comprehensive pre-trip preparation
  • Accommodation in a private, catered house
  • A 24/7 in-country team to support you
  • Airport pickup

Click here to see the full list of inclusions

TRAVEL OPPORTUNITIES

Your hospital placement is the focus of your trip. But your evenings and weekends are free to do some proper travelling.

You'll make lots of like-minded friends in the Work the World house. And you'll all go on big weekend trips together — from trekking through the Himalayas to whitewater rafting down the Zambezi. Whether you’re travelling solo or as a group, this is your chance to do something big before you graduate into the working world.

WHERE DO I START?

Your first port of call is to speak to our team. Our team are ready to answer any and all of your questions, and will paint a vivid picture of what a nursing elective placement could look like for you.

Get in touch using the short enquiry form at the bottom of this page.

DESTINATIONS

Indonesia - Yogyakarta
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More than half of all births in Indonesia are in rural areas. Many women in these areas believe that following religious beliefs and using a traditional birth attendant called a ‘dukun’ (the village shaman) or a ‘paraji’ leads to a healthy pregnancy. This limitation on modern prenatal care can lead to pregnancy complications like eclampsia, and some of the women experiencing them will come to your placement hospital in the city. You’ll be right there alongside local midwives, seeing these women through their personal, individual challenges.

Mexico - Merida
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You’ll spend your midwifery elective placement in Merida in the city’s oldest hospital. The hospital is understaffed, has very high patient numbers and limited bed space. Even so, local staff have still managed to half infant mortality rates over the last 20 years. While you’re on your midwifery elective placement here, you’ll spend time with these specialists to find out what it’s like to help care for mothers and babies in such challenging conditions. As a student, one of your favourite bits of this placement will be getting experience with how local staff handle difficult intrapartum complications (like breech births) with limited time and equipment.

Vietnam - Hue
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If you do your elective in Hue, you’ll spend your time in the OBG department in a big, bustling university teaching hospital. You can get experience in lots of different areas while you’re on placement, with local midwives helping to get you involved in all areas of maternal and infant paediatric care. You’ll learn a lot about Vietnamese traditions surrounding birth too. Some local people believe that making too much of a fuss of a newborn baby attracts bad spirits. Others believe that complementing the mother too much brings bad luck. Getting experience with cultural differences like these is a big part of what makes an overseas placement special.

Zambia - Lusaka
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Most Zambian mothers-to-be have their babies in the country’s big national hospitals — there’s a perception that these hospitals offer better care. While you’re on placement here, you’ll see how dramatically this affects patient volumes (they’re high). Some would argue that there isn’t enough education around having a baby in Zambia. You’ll even see that some mothers don’t realise they’re going into labour as no one has explained the signs. There’s a lack of prenatal care too. And this means you’ll get experience with conditions and birthing complication that just wouldn’t occur back in the UK.

Cambodia - Phnom Penh
Monk in Angkor Wat Cambodia. Ta Prohm Khmer ancient Buddhist temple in jungle forest
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Our partner hospital is based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital city. There’s a big and diverse population here, so you’ll get experience with plenty of patients, each with their own unique situation. If you do your midwifery elective here, you’ll see how local midwives safely deliver babies, even when conditions are at their toughest. One big problem is a lack of medicine. The impact of this means that less than 5% of women in Cambodia give birth with pain relief. Compared to the UK, birthing complications are common in Cambodia. Pregnant women and new mothers with HIV are much more common too. On this elective in Cambodia, you’ll see the ways local midwives have learned to help these patients, even when resources are seriously low. 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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One of the first things you’ll notice on a midwifery elective placement in Kandy is that there are more patients than there are beds. This shows how a lack of resources has a direct impact on patient care. Low resources also affect how staff are able to do their jobs. For example, you might see that staff have different attitudes towards things like terminations and miscarriages. In the UK, cases like this are normally handled and discussed with sensitivity. In Sri Lanka, local staff take a matter of fact approach. Out of necessity, they will prioritise patients’ physical welfare, sacrificing the emotional aspects of care. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Kandy.

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Tanzania - Dar es Salaam
DAR ES SALAAM MAIN IMAGE
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You can get experience with midwifery in Dar es Salaam right there on the wards with local midwives. You’ll see women giving birth before they even reach the labour wards as there are too few beds. Resources for midwives are low here, so women have to bring their own delivery packs with them, containing cotton wool, sterile gloves, and a razor blade for episiotomies and cord cutting. Things are different culturally too. On a midwifery placement here you’ll see that Tanzanian women are expected to show strength during labour. If they make too much noise, local midwives may even slap them on the leg and give them a telling off. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Dar es Salaam.

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Ghana - Takoradi
TAKORADI MAIN IMAGE
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In Ghana, healthcare is not free. No payment, no care. That means prenatal care, something we take for granted in the UK, is a luxury that only a tiny number of women in Takoradi benefit from. For some women, this leads to serious intrapartum complications (like a breech baby) further down the line. On a midwifery elective placement in Takoradi, you’ll see that there are differences in the care itself too, like a lack of maternity support during labour. Local midwives often keep a distance from the mother and let them deliver naturally. There’s a lack of intrapartum monitoring too, which is very different from UK practise. 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 in Iloilo, you’ll see major differences in practise between the UK and the Philippines. If a doctor isn’t quite ready for a delivery, local midwives will often apply pressure to where the baby is presenting to prevent the baby’s descent. The local hospital has a high patient load, so don’t be surprised to see patients sharing beds. You may also see more fetal abnormalities than you would back home, hydrocephalus, exomphalos and anencephaly included. You’ll also see that women with birthing complications and other risk factors, like preeclampsia, hypertension and twin births, are not separated. 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’ll see that HIV is much more common in Nepal than it is in the UK. Evidence suggests that babies are more likely to die from a lack of breastfeeding than from the virus, so mothers continue the practise. As is common in many developing countries, social and cultural factors can affect the care women receive. Religion, a woman’s occupation, cost, and having to seek permission from their husbands can prevent women from getting treatment even for routine procedures. And in spite of the efforts of local midwives, the rate of infant mortality in Nepal has actually risen in recent years. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Kathmandu.

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Nepal - Pokhara
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You’ll see huge differences in practise between the UK and Nepal if you do your placement in Pokhara. Doctors put most labouring women on contraction stimulating drugs, even if they’re already contracting naturally. There’s no analgesia during labour. Local midwives don’t tend to ask patients for consent, and will rarely offer explanations to patients before, during, or after procedures. You’ll also see that almost every woman will undergo an episiotomy, even if they’ve given birth multiple times. You can even observe in theatre here, which makes it an exciting elective placement for student midwives. 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. You’ll see a lot of mothers from economically disadvantaged backgrounds here. Many mothers-to-be have problems either pre-delivery or during birth, like preeclampsia, premature births and broken membranes. Instead of midwives, Peruvian hospitals have 'obstetras'. Obstetras are somewhere between a doctor and a midwife in terms of their OBG skills. But despite their advanced training, you’ll still see how culture affects local practises. You probably won’t see staff ask patients for consent before conducting procedures, and infection control is limited (sterile gloves are often reused from patient to patient). Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Arequipa.

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"One of my favourite memories during my placement in Cambodia was traditional baby washing."

Sarah Carlisle, University of Hertfordshire 2019

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"All of us had the most amazing experience and it’s not something we will ever forget."

Rachel Green, Hannah Jeavons, Sonia Takhar & Caroline Furey, Birmingham City University 2019

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"The biggest difference between healthcare in my county and in Kathmandu was the lack of resources and equipment."

Catriona Mc Sorley , Keele University 2019

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"I knew straight away that I was about to be involved in a whole new world of patient care."

Chloe Doust, Anglia Ruskin University 2019

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"We had so many opportunities to observe a variety of different procedures."

Claudia Leney, University of Surrey 2019

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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. Mexico

6. Ghana

7. The Philippines

8. Nepal

9. Sri Lanka

10. Indonesia 

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