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Volunteer Overseas

6 Reasons To Take Your Medical Elective Abroad


October 19th, 2016Travel, Volunteering, Careers
By Hannah Atkins

A Projects Abroad medicine volunteer from Denmark, learns how to tie a suture during a medicine workshop at the Museo de Anatomia in Cordoba, Argentina

6 Reasons To Take Your Medical Elective Abroad

Medical Electives abroad are increasing in popularity – many more students in the healthcare field are considering this option, and for good reason! Whether you’ve already decided to take your Elective abroad, or are still considering it, here are six reasons to show why it’s an excellent choice.

1. Work alongside medical professionals

You’ll be able to learn from qualified and experienced local professionals, who will mentor and supervise you throughout your time abroad. Staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and will be happy to teach you about healthcare practices in their country.

The doctors were fantastic and were willing to teach us, as well as share their experiences. Being a final year medical student, I was able to examine patients and write in the notes, actively manage and write discharge summaries. I truly felt I was contributing to the system. [Rita Desai]

2. Experience different medical practice

Working in a developing country, you are likely to see different illnesses and techniques than you would back home. It’s a great opportunity to learn about how patients are treated in a country different from your own, and to see how medical professionals adapt and deal with obstacles such as limited resources.

It was incredible to learn about the differences between healthcare in Sri Lanka and in the UK. I hadn’t realised how much I had taken away from this nursing experience until I was back in practice in the UK; I am so glad that I had the opportunity to learn in this limited-resource setting, it has been invaluable for my practice. [Katherine Hewitt]

3. Acquire new skills

From observing medical staff to assisting with practical tasks and treating patients under supervision, you’ll come away with a wealth of new information and improve your own abilities.

As the week went on my confidence grew and as the midwives and obstetricians learnt more about me and my level of experience I was able to become more involved in the practical side of clinics. [Lauren Dod]

4. Stand out from the crowd

While an Elective is sometimes a compulsory part of your degree, completing your placement abroad is a really valuable addition to your CV. It can be an indication that you’re willing to step outside your comfort zone, have a keen interest in global affairs, and want to broaden your horizons.

The breadth of cases we got exposed to was outstanding. The placement overall was a true eye-opening experience. I came to Peru with the aim of getting a really broad exposure to all aspects of medicine in a developing country for the benefit of my medical studies and that's exactly what Projects Abroad enabled me to do. [Fred Campbell-Jones]

5. Personal development

You will often find you learn a great deal about yourself and the things you value about your future career. Your Elective abroad will teach you useful lessons you can implement back home, highlight your strengths and weaknesses, and reveal how you work under a different set of circumstances. It may even spark an interest in a specific medical field, and help shape the future practitioner you will become!

I gained a lot of independence from carrying out my elective on my own. My elective experience also made me realise the value I place on being able to communicate and empathise with patients. [Louise Darvill]

6. Experience a new culture

Finally, one of the great aspects of interning abroad is being able to immerse yourself in a new way of life! From staying with a host family to exploring the local cuisine, visiting local attractions and interacting with the community, it’s an exciting and eye-opening experience.

My host family were absolutely wonderful. They went over and above what was required of them, and really made me feel completely at home. I owe them so much for making my experience in Nepal so incredible. [Resham Panesar]


If these six reasons have you convinced, the next step is to pick your destination! We offer six different types of Elective placements covering the different healthcare fields – Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Midwifery, Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy. Each of our destinations offers something different in terms of the kind of healthcare practice you will get to observe and where you will be placed – from hospitals to clinics and medical centres. Not sure which option will best suit you? Contact us one of our friendly Programme Advisors will be happy to help.

Did you take your Elective placement abroad, or are you considering it? Share your advice in the comments section below – we’d love to hear from you!

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