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 two weeks if you’re short on time. Arrivals are every Sunday, so you can travel whenever is most convenient for you.

OUR SERVICE

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.

START HERE

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.​

DESTINATIONS

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.

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 will undertake your placement in either a military hospital, a national paediatric hospital, a hospital built by the Soviet Union, or a hospital originally built to treat Buddhist monks. 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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Sri Lanka - Anuradhapura
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In Anuradhapura, you can choose to get experience in one of Sri Lanka’s biggest teaching hospitals or a tertiary care hospital — the only one of it’s kind in the northern region. You will see how economic factors have a direct impact on the cases you’ll see. One such example is the renal failure epidemic affecting farmers. The cause is suspected to be pesticides seeping into the community’s water supply. Queues of patients wait for dialysis each day outside the hospital’s renal unit — the lines stretch down the corridors and sometimes out of the building. If you’re after a medical placement in Asia, Anuradhapura is an excellent option. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Anuradhapura.

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Peru - Arequipa
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On a medical elective in Peru, you can choose to undertake your placement in Southern Peru’s oldest hospital, a government tertiary hospital, or in one of five ‘Micro Redes’ clinics designed to relieve pressure on hospitals by delivering primary care (the latter being unique to our program in Arequipa). Most patients are economically disadvantaged, but healthcare is government funded. In spite of this, resources are scarce and wards are overcrowded. Under these circumstances, even conditions like flu are much more of a threat than they are in Australia. If you’re interested in medical electives in South America, look no further than Arequipa. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Arequipa. 

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"It has made me appreciate the healthcare in the UK more and I have improved many of my practical skills too!"

Alicia Munro, University of Southampton 2019

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"Overall, my time in Ghana was everything I had hoped for and more."

Georgia Foley, James Cook University 2019

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"One thing I found challenging was the lack of use of local anaesthetic before spinal anaesthesia."

Saachi Chhaya, University of Nottingham 2019

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"Often patients were sharing bays and materials like defibrillator pads and oxygen masks were being reused."

Azmee Huda, James Cook University 2019

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"This was a good opportunity to get some clinical practice with plastering and minor trauma management among other minor clinical procedure".

Nicholas Eikelboom, University of Western Australia 2019

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What is a Medical Elective?

Medical Electives are placements Medical Students undertake as part of their degree—Work the World tailors structured, supervised Medical Electives in destinations across Africa, Asia and Latin America.