Shadowing a Doctor

September 9, 2014

Should you do your fellowship programme at home or abroad?

A Gap Medics student on placement in the operating theatre Completing a fellowship programme can act as an effective stepping stone to a consultant position. When carefully chosen and meticulously planned, a fellowship can play a vital part in enhancing your professional profile throughout your medical career.

There are no specific pros or cons to doing your fellowship at home or abroad. What you choose depends on your ultimate goal, your personal preferences and commitments and last but not least, your financial constraints.



Fellowships available in the UK

These are just a few of the many prestigious post-graduate fellowships offered within the UK: 

  • Fellowship in paediatric ophthalmology offered by Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, Manchester
  • Cambridge knee, foot, and ankle fellowship offered by Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge
  • Neuro-oncological surgery fellowship offered by the University Hospital Southampton NHS Trust, Southampton
  • Hammersmith hepato-pancreato-biliary fellowship offered by Hammersmith Hospital, London
  • Clinical leadership fellowship offered by the Department of Health, London

Choosing to do your fellowship outside of the UK can cost considerably more than completing a programme back home. However, regardless of the cost, students who have opted to do their fellowship abroad have always maintained that the experience was a huge learning opportunity that helped them professionally as well as personally.


Understanding the costs involved in overseas fellowships

The most popular fellowship destinations for the majority of UK trainees are the United States, Australia and Canada. Whichever destination you choose, it is most important to plan your finances carefully and make sure you have a reasonable amount of money to cover the initial as well as the future potential expenses. A rough estimate puts the figure at around £15,000 to cover the initial settlement expenses.

These are some of the initial expenses that you can expect:

  • Immigration and visa charges
  • Overseas medical registration fee
  • Legal verification of documents
  • Cost of travel
  • Overseas royal college assessment fee
  • Private health assessments
  • Miscellaneous fees for things like police certificates

Future expenses that you can expect:

  • Accommodation – most places want at least two months’ rent in advance
  • Medical indemnity
  • Car or some form of transportation
  • Children’s schools – foreigners do not get free education in most countries
  • Private health insurance
  • Recurring expenses back home – utility bills, mortgage, loan repayments and others


Making the most of your fellowship

Once you have secured a place on a fellowship programme, you can do several different things to ensure you get the most out of the experience.

The first thing you should do on joining is set up a formal meeting with your supervisor.

Seek early involvement in research projects and publish, present, and teach all through your fellowship.

This is also a good time to expand your professional network.

Keep in mind, however, that while you are on a fellowship, clinical exposure should always be your top priority. If the fellowship entails training in specific advanced medical or surgical techniques, your aim should be to either do them yourself or actively participate in them all the time.

If you choose to do a fellowship abroad, don’t make it all work and no play. It would be a shame to miss out on the opportunity to travel and explore a new country so keep some money aside and make time to travel around and soak in the culture and cuisine of a new destination.