The final year elective is often the highlight of a medical student’s time at university.
You design an experience that focuses on a topic area that interests you and can either arrange your own project or work with one of our partner institutions at home or abroad.
We have links with universities in Europe and Asia, although you may prefer to arrange your own elective, which can be almost anywhere from Australia to Zambia. You will need to fund your own trip so to help you, we also have dedicated management teams, well organised programmes and financial bursaries.
Tanzania. Dr Kathryn Siddle.
The hospital I visited was a disability hospital, based in the capital; Dar es Salaam.
I was mainly involved with the work in the obstetric fistula department, which is a birth injury that is very common in African nations but virtually unheard of in the UK, caused by prolonged obstructed labour, where the head of the fetus gets stuck in the birth canal and cannot pass through.
In the UK, as we have easy access to hospitals, instrumental deliveries and caesarean sections, this tends not to cause problems. However, in Tanzania, as many women give birth at home, are poor and have limited access to health facilities where the care is often poor and limited.
I was lucky enough to spend time in clinics, in theatre and on the wards, to see the care these women received. I attended days at other hospitals to assist with deliveries and see how different labour care is there. I also spoke with the counsellors working in the hospital, who shared some of the dreadful stories of some of these women; whose husbands often left them and communities abandoned them due to common misunderstandings about fistula.
Studying abroad allows you to learn about health problems that are rarely or never encountered in the UK, as well as introducing you to a completely different culture and healthcare system with it’s own strengths and weaknesses.
Obviously, a major aspect of this is touring the local area. I went to Zanzibar for a weekend while I was in Tanzania, visiting beaches with bluer sea and whiter sand than I could ever imagine. It was paradise.
Soweto. Dr Katie Maw
For my elective I went to Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital in Soweto, just outside Johannesburg.
It is a large, well known trauma center in a troubled area of South Africa which regularly deals with gun shot and stab wounds as well as multi-vehicle traffic accidents.
I chose this location as I knew I would be forced to deal independently with acutely unwell patients and think about their management while under extreme pressure. The twenty four hour shifts were pretty tiring too!
The elective was hard work and extremely emotional and I saw things I could never have imagined but I wouldn't change anything. It gave me amazing experiences and was the best decision I've made - I would highly recommend taking on an elective that truly challenges you.
The travelling afterwards was also incredible, giving me a chance to visit a beautiful part of the world and spend time winding down in Kruger national park and various animal sanctuaries.