Shadowing a Doctor

June 17, 2014

Hints and Tips For Planning Your Elective

For most students, the elective is one of the most exciting highlights of their time spent at medical school. During your elective, you will have the opportunity to go almost any place of your choice and find out more about a vast range of medical specialities. 

However, with several crucial decisions to be made, planning your elective can be quite overwhelming. To help, we’ve put together this guide to help make the planning process a little easier. 

Start Planning As Early As Possible

Competition for electives is always high and some of the best placements have long waiting lists. If you are aiming for one of the more popular placements you could find yourself at the bottom of a long list if you take too long. Planning your elective as soon as possible will give you a better chance to get something you want instead of having to settle for your second or third choice. Communication can be slow in some of the more remote areas so that also needs to be taken into consideration.

Take The Trouble To Get The Right Information

Most hospital websites will have details of their elective process. Sometimes this may involve some form of payment. If you cannot find the information on the website, it is worth taking the trouble to contact the hospital and get the necessary details.  

Information And Documentation You Will Need To Keep Ready 

When making initial contact, you should write a short covering letter with a few basic details about yourself. Your covering letter should include the following information:

– What you wish to get out of your elective

– Which year of medical school you are currently studying in

– Which medical school you are studying at and formal proof that you are a student in that particular institution

– The dates of your elective

– A reference letter

– Your contact details

The Long Wait After Your Application Submission

Overview of the operating room in Tanzania. It can sometimes take several weeks before you get a reply back from the hospital regarding your elective. If you have not heard back from them for some time, you may send a follow up enquiry email to the hospital.

One of the most important things to remember about confirmation of your elective is that you should ensure that you receive it in writing and not verbally over the phone as there could be mixed messages and a verbal confirmation is as good as no confirmation if something goes wrong.

Electives can and do fall through sometimes. To make sure that all is going according to plan, always re-confirm your arrival date with the hospital before departing.  

Budgeting And Financial support 

Making a detailed expense checklist will help you make a proper estimate of the total cost so you can budget accordingly and also apply for financial help.

Some of the major expenses you are likely to incur will include:

– Travel and visa costs

– Accommodation and food at your destination

– Elective travel insurance

– Immunisations

– Internal travel costs

– Mobile bills or phone cards 

With the long list of expenses that you are likely to incur before and during your elective, it is definitely worth applying to financial organisations for financial support. Some organisations that you could try include; your medical school, banks, pharmaceutical companies, charities and even local businesses that have a reputation of supporting such endeavours.