Identify your objectives
The first thing to consider before searching for an international medical elective is to determine your objectives. This will help you decide where to go, what to do, how long to go for, etc. It sounds like an arduous process but the subsequent steps are much quicker when you already have some details or personal preferences in mind. Don’t be embarrassed by what seems like superficial personal preferences that may heavily sway your decisions (i.e. tropical weather, learning a new culture, food, etc.) as these factors are still important to consider.
Talk to Others
After outlining a few objectives and perhaps narrowing down your ideas, it is a good idea to ask around, ask friends, family members, colleagues, fellow students, professors, and mentors. You never know where someone can have a connection that can make the whole process a whole lot easier.
Ask if anyone you know has already taken part in an international medical elective and if they would recommend the organization/hospital. There are countless non-profits and volunteer organizations out there, both local and global, that have programs open to students wishing to do an elective abroad. These programs are so diverse that asking for a recommendation from a peer might help weed through the maze and ensure your safety while abroad. Recommendations and opinions about experiences, countries, hospitals, etc. can help you in your decision or make it an easier process.
Research Organizations Online
Lastly, researching organizations online through search engines and online forums is an excellent way to feel out a few organizations and also a great resource when looking for opinions. Try searching for something general at first and then narrowing down a location or type of elective to help yield more specific results. Once you have found an organization that you are interested in going abroad with, call them and make sure it is a legitimate company. Asking questions like how long they have been doing these elective trips, what the application process is, how many volunteers they have each year, what a typical day will look like for you, what support systems are in place while you are away, any emergencies that anyone has ever had while on the ground etc.…
Find universities with medical schools
If you have decided which country/countries you would like to target, you can find out which universities in that country have medical schools and determine if they accept international students for electives. If you have a specific specialty you would like to work in, you can also try directly contacting the departments of affiliate teaching hospital to medical schools to see if they would take an international medical student for an elective.
Warning: Countries with an advisory of ‘Avoid all travel’ or ‘Avoid non-essential travel’ will not be approved
- CACHA : Canada Africa Community Health Alliance
- Mountain Fund
- BABU Bringing About Better Understanding
- Save a Child's Heart
- CHR Citadelle (French only)
- IFMSA International Federation of Medical Students' Associations
- Work the World
- Child and Family Health International
- CFMS Canadian Federation of Medical Students
- Unite for Sight
- Projects Abroad
- CSIH Canadian Society for International Health
- Mission Amanda and Elective Ghana:
Amanda Lee Kelsall, a second year Medical Student at the University of Ottawa passed away on January 5, 2014 as a result of a car accident near Pembroke, Ontario. Mission Amanda was created in her memory with the purpose to carry on the work that the Lord began in Amanda’s life. Two of Amanda's dreams were to get into Medical School and to go to Africa. She was fortunate to experience both of these. During medical school Amanda completed a medical elective in Ghana. This was such a remarkable experience that she made a commitment to be an ambassador for her host organization - Elective Ghana. Amanda and her parents, who have since travelled to Ghana themselves and met Sefa, the founder of “Elective Ghana’, have been very impressed by this organization. The commitment, compassion, and earnest desire of Elective Ghana to assist medical students in gaining meaningful experiences is very evident The Kelsall family contacted the UGME Global Health Program to ask us to help with the continuation and promotion of Elective Ghana experiences for our students. The founder and contact Sefa would be please to assist UOttawa Medical students to organize electives in Ghana, at minimal cost. For more information – please contact Sefa.
Note: International electives for UGME students must be 70hours/2weeks minimum.