WHY UNDERTAKE YOUR MEDICAL ELECTIVE OVERSEAS?
On our overseas medical electives, you’ll sharpen your clinical skills in a low-resource hospital setting in Africa, Asia, or Latin America.
In a busy clinical setting, you’ll see a breadth of both advanced and unfamiliar conditions, witness practises that challenge what you’ve learned, and learn how social and cultural issues impact the provision of care.
You have total control over the experience. Choose the destination to which you want to travel and the departments in which you want to gain experience. Note that we guarantee your department choices well before your trip.
We also provide you with detailed information such that you can plan your medical placement overseas down to the finest detail.
FLEXIBILITY AND CHOICE
When it comes to choosing hospitals and departments, you have an unparalleled range of options.
We have partnerships with teaching hospitals, regional hospitals, large government hospitals, tertiary referral centres, specialist hospitals, and even small rural health outposts.
You can rotate through departments including general medicine, A&E, anaesthesiology, ICUs, OBG, surgery, and paediatrics. You can also get experience in more specialised areas like neurology, cardiology, and oncology.
For additional information about the broad range of specialist areas you can experience, please use the short enquiry form at the bottom of this page.
Whether you want to undertake day shifts, night shifts, or both, you have complete flexibility — the majority of our partner hospitals are open around the clock.
Elective placements for medical students last between four and eight weeks, but we do offer a minimum of one week if you’re short on time. Arrivals are every Sunday, so you can travel whenever is most convenient for you.
The framework of our service is based around certainty and stability. Plan your medical elective through us and we will ensure your experience on the ground matches your expectations.
Take advantage of our well-established infrastructure, including the in-person relationships we have with our global hospital partners. These partnerships allow us to guarantee your hospital placement, your supervision, and your choice of departments. Of course, we provide detailed information around all of the above.
Even if you want to amend your choices once you’ve made them, we still offer an exceptional level of flexibility.
Basic inclusions that are part of all medical electives overseas:
- A dedicated 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, you can contact us using the short form at the bottom of this page, or click the green enquire now button.
BEYOND YOUR PLACEMENT
Your clinical elective typically runs from Monday to Friday (unless you choose to spend additional time in the hospital). That means your evenings and weekends are free to explore whichever destination you choose to visit.
As a medical student, the clinical aspects of the experience should be your focus. But our destinations offer an abundance of opportunity for adventure too.
Some examples include hiking through the Himalayan Mountains, safaris on the Tanzanian plains, exploring Cambodia’s sprawling Buddhist temples, or simply relaxing on a paradise beach on the coast of Sri Lanka.
Our team of elective experts are here to offer advice on any and all aspects of our service. They will answer your questions, helping you find a combination of destinations and departments to help you plan the best medical elective possible.
Get in touch using the short enquiry form.
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 Australia.
Mexico - Merida
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In Merida, you have two contrasting hospital placement options — a modern, high speciality government hospital, an under-resourced general hospital, or both. The former is focused on specialist care. This means state-of-the-art equipment and patient-centred care. In the general hospital, resources are scarce, the doctor-patient ratio is far below what you’re used to in Australia. The low-resource hospital has an A&E through which most of Merida’s emergency cases are routed. Needless to say, medical electives in Mexico are eye-opening. You can now also get experience in a specialist psychiatric hospital so please enquire for more details.
Vietnam - Hue
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On a medical elective in Vietnam, we’re partnered with a 600-bed university teaching hospital in which you can gain experience. Almost half of the hospital’s patients are from Vietnam’s most economically disadvantaged areas. Healthcare is actually free for many patients. However, heading to hospital often means a costly journey, sacrificing days of paid work in the process. Because of this, patients tend to delay seeking treatment. This often results in extremely late presentations of severely advanced conditions. Worsening matters, a lack of resources limits the care local specialists are able to provide. As far as medical placements overseas go, Hue is a fantastic option.
Zambia - Lusaka
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You’ll get a broad range of experience in up to four specialist hospitals on placement in Zambia. All four institutions are situated on one campus — the cancer and diseases hospital, the adult hospital, the paediatric medicine hospital, and the women and newborn hospital. Each hospital — and indeed each department within each hospital — offers totally unique experiences. That said, all of the above have low-resources, a lack of staff, and busy wards. Zambia experienced a serious HIV epidemic during the 1990s. The consequences were far-reaching and you will see how they add extra strain on an already stretched staff. If you’re looking for a medical elective in Africa, Lusaka should be on your list.
Cambodia - Phnom Penh
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On a medical elective in Cambodia, you’ll undertake your placement in either a national paediatric hospital, a hospital built by the Soviet Union, or both. There have been significant efforts to modernise medicine in Phnom Penh, but it is still the case that traditional and religious beliefs impact the delivery of care. Exacerbating the issue, equipment is ageing and resources are limited. This, more often than not, forces local doctors to rely purely on clinical judgement to diagnose patients. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Phnom Penh. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Phnom Penh.
Ghana - Takoradi
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On a medical elective in Ghana, you have the opportunity to undertake your placement in a district hospital, a dedicated maternity clinic, or the best-equipped clinical institution in the city. Regarding the latter, it’s important to note that ‘best-equipped’ doesn’t always means ‘well-equipped’ — Your experience of medicine in Ghana will be entirely different to what you’re used to in Australia. You’ll immediately notice that resources are limited, and this makes a placement in Takoradi particularly eye-opening. But in spite of the challenges, you’ll see local staff work creatively to providing the best possible level of care for their patients. Read stories from those who've already travelled with us to Takoradi.
Tanzania - Dar es Salaam
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On a medical elective in Tanzania, you can choose to undertake elective in either a hospital well-known for maternity, an orthopaedics and traumatology institute, a well-reputed regional hospital, or the the country’s largest national referral hospital. Dar es Salaam is the largest city in the country. That means busy wards and patients with a breadth of unique health issues. One example is that economically disadvantaged areas are prone to communicable disease outbreaks — cholera, cerebral malaria, and tuberculosis to name but a few. When it comes to medical placements in Africa, Dar es Salaam is a serious contender. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Dar es Salaam.
Nepal - Pokhara
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On a medical elective in Nepal — specifically in the city of Pokhara — you have the option to undertake your elective in: a private teaching hospital, a medical college, or a large regional hospital. Patients are often economically disadvantaged, so even though the government subsidise patient fees in both teaching hospitals, patients struggle to pay. Throughout your time in Nepal, you will see that religious tradition plays a significant role. For example, you might see patients taking medication to be blessed by local shaman to make sure it’s effective. Depending on which hospital you choose to spend time in, you have the opportunity accompany doctors on outreach trips to the primary healthcare clinics out in the local community. Read stories of those who’ve already travelled with us to Pokhara.
Nepal - Kathmandu
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Our medical placements in Kathmandu allow you to choose between a major teaching hospital, a specialist maternity and women’s hospital, or a specialist children’s hospital. The teaching hospital has 22 departments, housing the greatest number of medicine specialties of any institution in the Nepal. 45% of the country’s population are under 15, so because the children’s hospital is the only one of its kind in Nepal you can expect a busy placement.Considering its cultural context, the women’s and maternity hospital is progressive — it offers family planning and reproductive services to all the city’s women. When it comes to medical electives overseas, Kathmandu is an excellent option. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Kathmandu.
Philippines - Iloilo
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On a medical elective in the Philippines, you can get experience in either Panay Island’s largest tertiary referral hospital, or a tertiary teaching hospital. National health insurance service does, to some degree, exist in the Philippines, but its coverage is limited. To give you some idea, local doctors often have to prescribe medicines based on patients’ ability to pay for it rather than what they need. This, combined with the fact that most patients are economically disadvantaged, has a detrimental effect on the care local professionals can provide. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Iloilo.
Sri Lanka - Kandy
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On a medical elective in Sri Lanka (Kandy), you can undertake your placement in either a specialist paediatric institute, a government teaching hospital, or both. The teaching hospital is immense, and is home to eleven special units, seven ICUs and 23 theatres. This hospital serves a region with a population of around 2.5 million — you can expect busy wards throughout the institution. The paediatric hospital admits children from 0 to 16-years-old, and has an exceptional national reputation. You could see everything from premature babies to complex paediatric surgeries. Whichever you choose, experiences will be varied. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Kandy.
"I loved the ease with which my placement was organised."
Michaela Burke, University of Queensland 2020Read more
"Patients shared bays and materials like defibrillator pads and oxygen masks were being reused."
Azmee Huda, James Cook University 2019Read more
"Common presentations were road traffic accidents, malaria, HIV related illnesses."
Georgia Foley, James Cook University 2019Read more
"This was a good opportunity to get some clinical practice with plastering and minor trauma management."
Nicholas Eikelboom, University of Western Australia 2019Read more
"One family’s financial situation dictated whether or not the doctor could intubate their loved one."
Kai-Xing Goh, Monash University 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 care back home
How can I raise funds for my medical elective?
It’s easier than ever to get the funds together for your overseas medical elective. You can take advantage of government programs like OS-HELP, you can take the initiative by starting your own online fundraising page, and you can apply for a huge number of grants and bursaries to help you along the way. Learn how easy it is to raise as much as you need.
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.