WHY UNDERTAKE YOUR MEDICAL ELECTIVE OVERSEAS?
An overseas medical elective is an opportunity to sharpen your clinical skills in a low-resource hospital setting in Africa or Asia.
As a medical student, electives offer you the chance to 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. An overseas elective for medical students is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
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.
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 and graduates last between 4 and 8 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 on certainty and stability. Plan your overseas 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 about 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 and click the green enquire now button.
BEYOND YOUR PLACEMENT Abroad
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 during your overseas medicine elective.
As a medical student, placements are primarily about the clinical experience. But our destinations offer an abundance of opportunities for adventure too.
Some examples include hiking through the Himalayan Mountains, safaris on the Tanzanian plains 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 medical placement questions, helping you find a combination of destinations and departments to help you plan the best medical elective abroad.
Get in touch using the short enquiry form.
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.
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.
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.
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 - 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.
"Having the opportunity to take my skills overseas and learn how things work in a healthcare system that is, in many ways, completely different from my own was too good to pass up."
Shane Zhang, University of Newcastle 2023Read more
"The biggest difference was the lack of provisions. Even though the hospital is partly funded, all patients still had to buy all medications and provisions for the doctors to treat them".
John Jenkins, University of Southampton 2023Read more
"Throughout my placement, I was able to engage with Vietnamese medical students who were fascinated to hear about my medical education as well learning more about theirs".
Eleanor Buck , St George's, University of London 2023Read more
"My supervisors were great, really friendly and engaging and all spoke excellent English and got me involved".
Lexi Colebrook, Barts & The London School of Medicine & Dentistry 2023Read more
"We had plenty of autonomy. There was lots of help available, but it was never overbearing and we were free to explore our independence."
Max Elwig, University of Sheffield 2022Read 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 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 and graduates typically travel on their medical electives for 4 - 6 weeks. There is no upper limit to how long you can travel for.