Medical students get the change to go to work in the real world of medicine by choosing medical electives and working in what could be a whole different country to get experience in their chosen fields of medicine.

What Does a Medical Elective Consist Of?

When a student gets ready to choose their medical electives, they will be arranging for an average of six to eight week timeframes or varying amounts of time, depending on the job or location. It is considered part of their school work and is done in the student’s 4th or 5th year of college.

Where Can You Go for a Medical Elective?

Students can stay in their own countries, or go elsewhere, depending on their desires and fields. For instance, it is very popular to go to a third world country to help the people there and learn to do new skills at the same time. Plus, the students get to see how doctors and nurses, etc., work in other countries and it gives them a better look at medical practices around the world.

The locations overseas often give them a very intense look at patient care in the third world countries because these places are the ones that need the help very badly and will welcome students doing medical electives. It is a rewarding experience for both the students and the medical professionals in the hospital or clinic they end up working in during the medial elective timeframe.

They may even see things they would never see elsewhere, such as exotic diseases like leprosy or dengue fever as these are rarely seen in places like the UK or the US.

How to Arrange Your Medical Electives Overseas

Students need to begin to plan for the way they will arrange their medical electives as soon as possible and should really begin far in advance. That’s because if you plan to go overseas to some of these poor countries, you will need visas, immunizations, insurance, and many other necessary items.

Other things to plan and find out about are knowing how many other students would be going to the same place, as most students want more of a one on one experience rather than finding themselves in a huge group of other students where they barely get any hands on experiences.

It’s also good to find out who is in charge of the medical elective too so you can find out things like how much support you have, i.e. what if you go to a foreign country and run into some sort of problems? If so, you will need to know where to go to find some help to fix whatever the situation may be. Sometimes certain groups are in charge of a medical elective like local medical or charity society and you may need to get in touch with these places in advance to scheduling your medical elective.

Things to Consider in Your Medical Elective Location

When you get to the place you will be doing your medical elective, you will need to have a place to live, to know how you will arrange for your meals, etc. This is something you can’t forget about in the excitement of getting to go someplace different to learn about your chosen medical field and work with other doctors and other medical personnel.

Sometimes you may have to arrange for these things yourselves, but other times the group that is in charge of the medical students doing their medical electives will help you to arrange for these things and may meet you at the airport to help you get settled in. However, you need to know which things you are responsible for arranging and which things your hosts are responsible for, as this will save you from the hassle of experiencing a sudden surprise of something like not having a place to live once you get to the country you will be working at.

Check for Information from Medical Organizations

Most likely the school you are going to has associations with various other medical groups that can also help you to find a good choice for arranging your medical electives. There are organizations like The Electives Network, Medics Away, Doctors without Borders, Global Medical Projects, etc. The list could be quite extensive, so you need to do some research ahead of time to see which ones may have something that you are interested in doing during your medical elective.

Or, it is even possible for you to do all of the planning yourself by doing some research on the type of medicine you want to study or the country you would like to go to, etc. If this is what you plan to do, then you need to try to get ahold of the medical groups in that location to get started.

Figuring the Cost of a Medical Elective

In all the excitement of arranging a medical elective, you can’t forget about planning the cost of it, especially if you plan to do it overseas. Some of the costs might be covered by the organization that is placing you in the locations, but other times they aren’t. Here are some of the possible costs you might incur:

  • Transportation
  • Accommodations
  • Visas
  • Passports
  • Immunizations
  • Insurance (both travel and medical and indemnity)
  • Daily living costs in the location you go to
  • Misc. things you want to do during your medical elective

Some medical electives are very expensive, while others may be more affordable. It’s possible there are grants or sponsorships that you can get to pay for part of a medical elective, and you should check to find out if this is the case to help you in your arrangements.

Talk to Other Students

Some of the other things to consider when planning your medical electives is to talk to other students that might have been to the same location you are considering to see what their experiences were like.

All in all, medical electives are an exciting time for students and as long as you start your planning early, you should be well on your way to making it the best time in the start of your new career.