WHAT IS AN OVERSEAS MEDICAL ELECTIVE WITH WORK THE WORLD?

Overseas medical elective placements are clinical electives you do in a low-resource, but fast-paced hospital setting in the developing world.

You’ll see unfamiliar cases and practices in a healthcare system entirely different from what you know.

You choose the departments you want to rotate through. That might be oncology, surgery, paediatrics, the ED…. whatever your areas of interest, we can help.

You’ll learn how sociocultural issues affect the delivery of care, see unfamiliar conditions like tropical diseases, and get real experience with global health issues.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A MEDICAL ELECTIVE OVERSEAS?

Our medical electives are designed to help you stand out among all the other medical students graduating every year.

On our medical placements overseas, you’ll:

  • Expand your clinical knowledge and skill set
  • Develop your confidence and resourcefulness
  • Build your personal and professional network
  • Sharpen your verbal and non-verbal communication
  • Become more attractive to employers

Our placements run Monday to Friday, so your evenings and weekends are free. That means you’ve got plenty of time explore whichever beautiful country you’ve chosen to travel to.

WHO ARE WE?

We're Work the World — The experts in designing and building medical electives overseas. We were founded in 2005, and since then we've built 13,000+ elective placements for medical students from 450+ universities globally.

 

We provide a personal, end-to-end service that includes:

 

Elective customisation (choose your destination and departments) | Comprehensive pre-trip support | 24/7 in-country support team | Private, catered accommodation

 

Arrivals are on Sundays, 52 weeks a year. Placement durations are from two weeks up.

 

Find out more about how our service works by clicking here.

AM I ELIGIBLE?

You can travel with us if:

  • You are undertaking a medical degree
  • You have recently graduated with a medical degree

WHERE DO I START?

Your very first step is to talk to us. Our expert team are ready to answer your questions, help you pick the perfect destination, and secure your place, ensuring you have the best medical elective possible.

Get in touch using the short form at the bottom of the page (or click the green enquire now button).

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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"I saw doctors who cared about their patients, using what they could to do as good a job as possible."

Nick Edwards, University of Queensland 2018

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"I observed many obstetric and gynaecological cases and witnessed the differences in healthcare approaches compared to Australia."

Erica Sorn, University of Wollongong 2018

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"All of the doctors I saw were amazing, and on a number of occasions I was blown away by their resourcefulness, as well as the fortitude of the patients."

Andrew McKinlay, University of Queensland 2018

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"Before I knew it, I was in resus supporting a humerus that had been snapped clean in half!"

Jake Plane, Flinders University 2018

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"There was routine use of prescription drugs to augment labour, and routine episiotomies".

Jessica Annett, Hull York Medical School 2018

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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.