Elective students practice suturing

6 Reasons to do a Medical Elective Abroad in 2024

Shadow doctors overseas to gain stand-out medical experience

By Hannah Atkins | 29th November, 2018
Updated on 06th December, 2023

Medical Electives are a chance to gain real-world experience beyond medical school. By interning in a hospital and shadowing doctors, you’ll learn a lot about yourself. Take this opportunity to test your skills and decide on a career path.

Taking Medical Electives abroad is becoming increasingly common. Many more students in the healthcare field are considering this option, and for good reason!

Here are six reasons why taking your Medical Elective abroad is an excellent choice in 2024.

1) Work alongside medical professionals

You’ll learn from qualified and experienced medical professionals. They'll mentor and supervise you throughout your time abroad.

Local staff are friendly and knowledgeable. They'll be happy to teach you about healthcare practices in their country.

On a Midwifery Elective in Tanzania, for example, you can expect to:

  • Observe natural births and caesarean sections
  • Rotate between different departments
  • Gain hands-on work during community outreaches  
“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.” - Medicine Elective in Tanzania by Riti D

2) Experience different medical practices

Working in a different country, you're likely to see different illnesses and techniques than you would back home. It’s a great opportunity to learn how patients are treated abroad. You'll also see how medical professionals adapt and deal with obstacles such as limited resources.

For example, our students on a Midwifery Elective in Sri Lanka learn about dengue fever during medical workshops.

“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.”- Nursing Elective in Sri Lanka by Katherine H

3) Acquire new skills

From shadowing doctors to assisting with practical tasks, you’ll emerge with a wealth of new information and skills.

Depending on the department you work in, as a Medical intern abroad, you may:

  • Measure vital signs
  • Change clothes and bandages
  • Measure blood pressure
  • Take blood samples
“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.”- Midwifery Elective in Peru by Lauren D

4) Stand out from the crowd

While an elective is sometimes a compulsory part of your degree, doing it abroad is also great for your CV. It shows you’re willing to step outside your comfort zone. You'll also develop a better understanding of healthcare challenges within a global context and formulate a broader perspective.

“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.” - Medicine Elective in Peru by Fred C-J 

5) Personal development

By becoming a Medical intern abroad, you'll learn a great deal about yourself and the things you value. Your Medical Elective will teach you useful lessons you can implement back home. It'll also highlight your strengths and weaknesses, revealing how you work under a different set of circumstances.

This has the benefit of confirming your choice (or not) by exposing you to everyday situations to see how you react.

It could even push you down a path of specialising or general practice, shaping the future practitioner you'll 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.” - Medicine Elective in Ghana by Louise D

6) Experience a new language and culture

Finally, one of the best aspects of interning abroad is immersing yourself in a new way of life! Staying with a host family, trying local food, and visiting attractions are enlightening experiences.

You’ll also get first-hand experience of working with people whose first language is not English. This skill is highly sought after, even in English-speaking hospitals.

“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.” - Medicine Elective in Nepal by Resham P

If these six reasons have convinced you, the next step is to pick your destination!

We offer four different types of Elective placements in several locations covering different healthcare fields, including

  • Medicine
  • Nursing
  • Midwifery
  • Physiotherapy

Each of our destinations offers something different. We have identified key placements for elective students that meet university requirements. These allow more flexibility regarding clinical hours and departments. 

We offer two to 12-week placements with flexible start dates. This means you can join us when your university gives you the time off.

Seize this opportunity to fulfil your dream of a successful healthcare career!

Want to do a Medical Project abroad?

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