Questions to ask yourself before booking an elective
Planning clinical electives abroad isn’t a walk in the park. There is a lot of research that you’ll need to do, key decisions you’ll have to make, and generally loads and loads of planning, coupled with the responsibility of school and hospital workload during the academic year.
Here are a few key questions you’ll need to address before booking an elective.
Where do you want to do your electives?
Doing your electives abroad isn’t just about the clinical side of things, it also gives you the revered opportunity to explore places you probably wouldn’t have otherwise. Pick a country that is on your wish list and make the most of your free time at the destination by exploring and learning more about the cultures that call that country home.
What do you want to get out of your elective experience?
Do you want hands-on experience? Do you want to be in an urban hospital? Or do you want to be in a rural hospital? Do you want some tourist and extracurricular activities or just straight up 100% hospital time? Do you want credit that will add up to your degree? These are important questions to ask yourself while planning your electives as they’ll help you narrow down what elective companies and what elective packages are best suited for your needs.
What is your budget?
Good quality, well-rounded elective packages are not cheap, and nothing good comes easy. This is me speaking from personal experience. It’s advisable not to pick your elective packages solely based on pricing, also consider what’s included in the packages. Save up if you may and do your best to get yourself the most rewardable experience. For students, check with your student union as I’m aware that some universities offer scholarships and subsidized fees for elective placements.
What’s the application deadline?
Start planning your electives way in advance and ensure you make a note of the application deadlines. Most electives are seasonal and only come by a limited number of times a year.
What are the vaccination recommendations for your destinations?
Some vaccines need to be taken months in advance and some might need booster doses. Do your best to get more information about these and get them sorted ahead of time.
What preventative treatments are recommended for your destination?
Many countries recommend travelers take prophylactic medications prior to their trips to certain parts of the world where some diseases might be endemic. Malaria prophylaxis, for instance, is a must if you’re heading to most counties in Africa.
Do you need to apply for any visas?
Ensure you check this in advance as visa applications could take longer than expected during peak travel months, and documentation could take a while to get together.
Who will handle the logistics of your elective abroad?
Planning an elective is no easy task! The process of researching, enquiring, booking, etc takes a tonne of time. Oh, and let’s not forget that you’re still burdened with the workload of school or work. This is why it’s advisable to find a reliable company you can trust to handle the entire process for you.
Thinking of going on an elective? DO IT! And ensure your elective is organized by a reputable company!
Dr. Wendy Evans-Uhegbu is a graduate of The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, with experience in Connected Health, Medical Technology, Clinical Research, Medical Education, and Web Design. She is a member of the Medics Abroad team with the role of Chief Communications Officer. She also runs a Medical Communications and Publishing business (www.odrcommunications.com), and is the author of the newly published children’s book “The Things Around Me”.