WHY GO ON A PHYSIOTHERAPY ELECTIVE ABROAD?

A physiotherapy elective abroad is your chance to do a clinical placement in a low-resource, high patient volume hospital in the developing world.

Tell us which  destinations you want to travel to and the areas of physiotherapy you’re most interested in. Then, we’ll plan and build your placement to suit you.

A physiotherapy placement abroad lets you to experience a healthcare system totally different from your own. You’ll  even learn about practises you’ve never encountered before, like electrotherapy and wax baths.

In the hospital you’ll learn how economic and cultural considerations affect the provision of physiotherapy abroad. For example, a lot of rehabilitation equipment is handmade. Uncommon conditions you can see include clubfoot and spina bifida.

THE CLINICAL EXPERIENCE

Getting clinical experience abroad is all about challenging your knowledge and developing a fresh outlook on physiotherapy. You’ll quickly learn that things we take for granted in the UK —  even basic gym equipment in some cases — are considered luxuries in the developing world.

Some things you could observe include:

  • Handmade and improvised rehabilitation equipment
  • Uncommon conditions like leprosy
  • Heavy reliance on manual therapies
  • Extremely late presentation and advanced cases

You will also see major differences in the fundamentals of physiotherapy too. For example, in many of our destinations, practises like ECT and TENS machines are widely used, and often a first port of call in treatment.

Hospital placements run Monday to Friday. That means your evenings and weekends are free to explore a country you might never have otherwise visited.

WHAT’S INCLUDED?

With our service, you get support from beginning to end. This starts from the moment you get in touch, continues through your placement and even when you’re back in the UK.

 

The service is comprehensive and takes the stress out of planning something as complex as an elective abroad.

 

With us, you’ll get:

 

A tailored physiotherapy 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 (every week of the year). That means you can travel whenever’s convenient to you. Placement durations start from two weeks.

 

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

TRAVEL OPPORTUNITIES

As a physiotherapy student, the clinical side of things is absolutely the focus of your trip.

But — whether travelling solo is your style, or you prefer the group atmosphere — weekend trips are a highlight. From trekking through the Himalayan mountains to whitewater rafting down the Zambezi, our destinations offer an abundance of adventure and opportunities to immerse yourself in local culture.

WHERE DO I START?

Talk with us. Our team will answer your questions and offer a clearer picture of what you can expect from a physiotherapy placement abroad.

Get in touch using the short enquiry form.

physiotherapy electives abroad

DESTINATIONS

Mexico - Merida
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The physiotherapy team in the hospital we’re partnered with attend to a breadth of cases. You’ll see everything from aches and pains to severe burns. You can help to rehabilitate patients with neurological disorders too. Strokes and Bell’s palsy are quite common, as are work-related injuries. The OPD, you’ll see conditions like chronic back pain, Bell’s palsy, facial paralysis, strokes and pain management. You can also get some experience with ultrasound therapy and even hydrotherapy. In another, more modern partner hospital, you can get experience with post-surgical patients and those who need respiratory therapy.

Vietnam - Hue
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Our partner institution in Hue is a university teaching hospital. As such it has a wealth of experience training student physiotherapists. In terms of cases, you’ll help rehabilitate patients with everything from severe burns to paediatric spina bifida. In fact, 15% of Vietnamese people live with a physical disability. Many result from RTAs, some from stunted growth in childhood, even from old civil conflicts. Some of the most interesting insights will come from local staff. Much of the time they have to improvise treatments to get around a lack of modern rehabilitation equipment.

Zambia - Lusaka
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Lusaka offers exceptional opportunities when it comes to physiotherapy placements abroad. In the hospital’s specialised gym, you can help rehabilitate cases of clubfoot, neuro disorders, amputations, burns… the list goes on. The hospital even makes its own molds and prostheses. You can get involved with orthopaedics and respiratory therapies too. In the onsite cancer and diseases hospital, you can help with pain management for cancer patients. But, owing to a lack of education around health, patients often delay treatment until their conditions have become severe.

Cambodia - Phnom Penh
Monk in Angkor Wat Cambodia. Ta Prohm Khmer ancient Buddhist temple in jungle forest
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A physiotherapy elective in Cambodia opens your eyes to how your overseas counterparts cope with heavily limited resources. Using hand-made equipment, you can help treat patients presenting an extraordinary range of conditions, from meningitis to cerebral palsy. The physio department here operates across lots of different wards. The OPD, neurosurgical, cardiothoracics, and surgical ICU included. When it comes to cases, MSK, strokes, cerebral palsy, Guillain Barre, fractures, and burns are all among the common cases. 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

Nepal - Pokhara
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In Pokhara your physiotherapy elective placement takes place in a highly specialised rehabilitation hospital. The institution’s approach is educating patients about their conditions and using treatments improving their quality of life. Spending time with local physiotherapists, you’ll learn how a resource limitations impact the quality of care they’re able to deliver. In terms of cases, you’ll see things like strokes, degenerative disorders, soft tissue injuries, neuromuscular disorders, musculoskeletal conditions, and post-amputation rehabilitation among others. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Pokhara.

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Sri Lanka - Kandy
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On a physiotherapy elective in Kandy you’ll learn from an amazing team in the local teaching hospital. The hospital promotes patient interaction, so you could also find yourself getting experience with handmade equipment improvised by local staff. Time in the busy outpatient department gives you insight into specific, and often advanced cases. The equipments and treatments are interesting too — short wave diathermy, exercise machines, interferential therapy, infrared lamps,  mechanical traction units (back & neck), wax baths, and ultrasound therapy to name a few. 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 physiotherapy elective here, you’ll see how limited — often outdated — equipment will present you with new challenges. The hospital’s physiotherapy unit works across neurosurgical and surgical ICU wards too. This gives you plenty of opportunity to broaden your clinical experiences into areas you might not have seen before. Technically under the rheumatology department, the physiotherapy unit here uses exercise machines, interferential therapy, infrared lamps, mechanical traction units, wax baths and more. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Anuradhapura.

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Tanzania - Dar es Salaam
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On a physiotherapy placement abroad, you’ll be spending time in a department that focuses on orthopedic cases like road accidents, construction and logging injuries, and domestic accidents. The use of dated and sometimes handmade rehabilitation equipment will highlight the lack of resources in the field. Some other cases you could see in our partner hospital in Dar es Salaam include stroke, cerebral palsy, back pain, delayed milestones, neuropathies, nerve injuries, contractures, arthritis, and post eclampsia. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Dar es Salaam. 

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Nepal - Kathmandu
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Physio is a developing field in Nepal and our Kathmandu programme is great for physiotherapy student placements. You’ll observe practices taking shape into a form physiotherapy unique to the country. On placement you’ll see a range of cases — congenital hemiplegia, myocardial Infarction, down's syndrome, Guillain Barre syndrome, ERB's palsy, muscular dystrophy, encephalitis sequelae, meningitis, and delayed milestones. And you can expect to see how a lack of resources impacts the treatments available for these conditions. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Kathmandu.

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Philippines - Iloilo
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Physiotherapy placements in our partner hospital allow you to learn from a dedicated department team. You’ll spend time with this team helping patients from the city and surrounding rural areas. You can also help to rehabilitate neuro cases, like patients with cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain surgeries. But there are also conditions you might not have seen — patients with clubfoot and amputees for example. You’ll also see the unique challenges the developing world presents. Many patients don’t follow home treatment plans because they simply can’t afford to take time off work. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Iloilo.

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Peru - Arequipa
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On your physiotherapy elective in Peru, you’ll begin drawing comparisons between the holistic rehabilitation practised in Peru versus what you're used to at home. Treating patients from the poorer sections of society — many of whom suffer from birth defects and long-untreated conditions — will open your eyes to the unique challenges faced by local staff. Common cases include, Bell’s palsy, post-surgical rehabilitation, chronic back conditions, and pain management. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Arequipa.

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Ghana - Takoradi
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Undertake your physiotherapy elective in Takoradi, you can help treat post-operative patients, and those with strokes, burns, and Erb’s palsy. You’ll help rehabilitate patients using the department’s gym equipment. Another aspect of care is counselling patients so they can continue their own treatment plans at home. The volume of outpatients here is high, but local specialists do get out into the wards like paediatrics, surgical and OBG. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Takoradi.

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"We quickly learnt how to be more resourceful, using a glove filled with water for a pressure cushion – something we’d never see back home!"

Carys Jones & Laura Tasker, Cardiff University 2019

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"I was placed in a variety of settings in the hospital including outpatients, critical care, oncology, neurology, amputations, and paediatrics"

Catherine Benson, Cardiff University 2019

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"Treatment was heavily based on electrotherapy, manual therapy and exercise prescription."

Veronica Goldring, University of Melbourne 2019

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"I came home realising that despite being overstretched and understaffed, their system works."

Siwan Jones, Cardiff University 2018

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"I was able to experience physiotherapy in a challenging and entirely different environment"

Greg Ireland, Glasgow Caledonian University 2018

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What is a physiotherapy elective?

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

How long is a physiotherapy placement?

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

What are the most popular countries for physiotherapy electives?

Our most popular countries for physiotherapy 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 physiotherapy placement?

The benefits of a physiotherapy placement 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 kinds of cases will I see on an overseas physiotherapy placement?

You will see cases like:

  • Clubfoot
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Paediatric spina bifida
  • Post-amputation rehabilitation
  • Post-eclampsia