Electives have been part of the healthcare curriculum for over forty years, and are often the highlight of the undergraduate experience for students across the globe. Getting the chance to experience a tropical climate and the clinical challenges that come with this make for an exciting alternative to the familiar ward rounds and procedures a placement at home might bring.
You might feel overwhelmed by the scope of destination choices that all seem fantastic, or by variety of departments, clinics, community opportunities, and rural healthcare experiences on offer.
We’ve put together a list of points to take into account, so you know you’re going about choosing your elective destination in a balanced way.
Every destination we work in has a unique blend of culture, specific environmental and social factors, and a nuanced healthcare system.
Because of this, it’s worth getting to grips with what the destination can offer in terms of travel and culture, and what to expect on the clinical front. Lucky for you our team of experts have travelled extensively and know each hospital intimately, possessing all the information you’ll need to feel 'in the know' and able to make an informed, well rounded decision.
Our team also know which destinations lend themselves to certain fields.
Take Sri Lanka, for example. Although the civil conflict came to an end nearly a decade ago, its ripples are still present in the lives of those affected. A large number of amputees seeking specialist help in our partner hospitals in Kandy and Anuradhapura has resulted in departments catering specifically to the needs of these people. This also means it’s an opportunity to get experience working in rehabilitation for those studying or practicing Physiotherapy or Occupational Therapy.
It’s really worth discussing your options with those who know these specifics (us), and how to translate them into a reality (us again!).
List your goals for the future
Maybe you’re a radiography student who wants to familiarise yourself with darkroom practises, or a med student contemplating a future in anaesthetics. Either way, your goals and ambitions play an important part in defining your future. These are of the upmost importance when it comes to choosing your destination, so we put these among the most important factor when tailoring your placement.
Know your comfort zone, and get out of it
Choosing a destination where you’ll be able to engage with unfamiliar ailments, diseases and conditions can be daunting. But by putting yourself out in front of these challenges you'll reap untold benefits. If the prospect of working in oncology in Peru or the neonatal intensive care unit in Ghana takes you out of your comfort zone, you should go for it.
Village Healthcare Experiences
Every placement we organise has an optional Village Healthcare Experience week. While you shouldn’t base your choice of destination on these alone, they're be a highlight for anyone who undertakes them. You’re unlikely to experience this level of cultural immersion ever again. Reading reviews and stories from students who have tried a Village Healthcare Experience is a great place to start getting to grips with the options.
Think about the language
Our team will provide you with comprehensive language prep resources prior to your departure. You'll also get free language lessons in the Work the World house once you arrive, but it’ll be up to you fully utilise what you learn. If you're already familiar with a language, you might find you can put it to use in one of our destinations. This is especially the case with Spanish – students with a grasp of the language can glean huge amounts from a placement in Peru, when it comes to both staff and patients. Having a think about your current language skills and if you want to improve them will help you choose a destination you can really thrive in.
If you're thinking of travelling to Peru and don't speak Spanish at a conversational level, fear not - we offer a week-long Intensive Spanish Course geared towards healthcare terminology.
Pick somewhere you MIGHT NOT GET THE CHANCE TO VISIT AGAIN
This really goes without saying, but by picking a destination in a part of the world you’re unlikely to visit again, or haven’t before, you’ll be more inclined to make the most of every moment. You might want to add on some extra travel time before or after your placement too. It's worth researching the travel opportunities in the areas our programmes are based so you can get a good idea of things you'll be able to do and see.
Last but certainty not least, think about what appeals to you when it comes to your destination. Hungry for adrenaline? Want to be awed by ancient history? Feel more at home in a rural town than a busy city? Knowing yourself and what type of environment will inspire you to work to your best ability is key.
Whichever destination you pick, one truth always remains - we’re here to help you every step of the way. Whether it’s by phone or email, our team of expert Elective Consultants have extensive knowledge of all our programmes – both inside the hospital and out. To talk to us, simply fill out the short enquiry form at the bottom of the page.