While these are all things you’ll no doubt be expecting to encounter on your overseas medical / healthcare elective, I have put together some of the more unexpected aspects of a medical elective placement which makes it a once in a lifetime experience. 

I went on a medical elective with Work the World and you can check out my experience below which includes essential things you should know before going on an elective abroad below:


1. You will live in a house with other international students

When you’re working in an intense environment, living with likeminded and supportive people is a necessity that’s often overlooked. Being able to unwind at the end of a long day in a comfortable space among your peers is one of the most valuable aspects of a Work the World placement.


2. You will gain confidence and durability 

You might be expecting to pick up new skills and learn more about volunteering abroad in the developing world, which you certainly will do. What you might not be expecting is how much of a positive impact these insights will have your confidence and ability to remain calm, confident and professional under any circumstances.


3. Get expert support from a local team

Work the World Staff

Because all our staff are local to the destination they work in — many of them having lived there their whole lives — they know the local landscape like the back of their hand. They’ll be on hand or contactable 24 hours a day during your placement, and will fully orientate you in the city on your first day.


4. Weekly BBQ’s and traditional cooking lessons

Whichever destination you choose; you’ll be treated to a weekly BBQ evening at the Work the World house. There’s also plenty of chance to try your hand at the traditional recipes of your destination with cooking lessons from the house chef. 


5. Live in a remote locations

Some placements can be in very remote locations.

On one of our week-long Village Healthcare Experience you’ll be placed at the heart of a rural village community for a week. You could live with the Maasai tribe in Tanzania, Ayurveda practitioners in Sri Lanka, the Ati Tribe of Guimaras Island in The Philippines, and a farming villages in the Himalayan foothills.

Whichever you choose, you’ll get fully immersed in village life, learn anything from buffalo milking to traditional dances. You’ll also gain clinical experience working in a local health outpost or similar that will complement the city-based part of your placement. 


6. You'll make life-long friends 

Work the World Volunteers

To those of you who’ve not yet had the experience it might seem unlikely, but the experience of living and working in an unfamiliar environment, learning about your respective disciplines, and travelling together will create a bond among you and your peers like nothing else will. Sharing experiences is a powerful way of creating not only memories, but also lifelong friendships.


7. You'll get the chance to learn a new language

Working abroad in a foreign country often means working with a foreign language. You might not be expecting any help when it comes to brushing up on the local lingo, but Work the World offer an abundance of support.

Before you go we’ll give you access to our carefully prepped language guides with accompanying videos, which teach you everything from days of the week to complex terminology specific to your area of study.

When you arrive in country you’ll also have a weekly language lesson in the house, where you’ll learn the clinical phrases most needed to effectively interact with local patients. You could also be independent and seek out local language schools abroad to take more classes in your spare time.


Unfortunately, it’s the nature of a blog post that you can only fit so much information in. There’s a lot more to our placements than the above, including in-depth pre-departure preparation, private accommodation, and structured clinical supervision. If you would be keen to join an elective placement in Africa, South America or Asia search medical volunteering programs abroad today.


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