AMSA is dedicated to providing members with the best resources to help you through your medical degree and beyond, and one of the most important things that you get to do while you are studying is to organise your elective; your first real independent excursion into the medical field.
A medical elective gives you the opportunity to experience medicine anywhere in the world, from a busy city hospital to a remote tropical outpost or a charitable research centre. Wherever it is you want to go, it is important to find out as much as possible and to ensure you have planned everything well in advance, so that you have the most hassle-free elective possible.
Planning your elective doesn’t have to become difficult, although many students struggle because they underestimate how much organisation an elective requires. Follow the five tips for elective planning success to make sure you don”t end up with an elective headache!
1. Start planning early. Say about eighteen months in advance! Popular hospitals have limited application windows and sometimes strenuous sifting procedures, so make sure you are prepared well in advance.
2. Do your research. If you are going abroad, especially if you are going to a non-
Western country expect, and make allowances for differences to the application procedure and the time it will take to open a dialogue. Think about where the hospital is; if it’s in the middle of the jungle, internet reception might not be reliable!
3. Always plan for the worst. Electives can fall through, so make sure you have a back-up plan to avoid disappointment. Additionally, research vaccination and HIV prophylaxis requirements, and ensure you are immunised well in advance.
4. Keep copies of important documents. Keep a copy of all of your travel documents (including your passport and medical specific travel insurance), email them to yourself in case of emergency and leave some with a family member just in case.
5. Make life easier for yourself. Book your flights and accommodation once your placement is confirmed (it is advisable to get written confirmation from your hospital if possible) as this saves money, and reconfirm with the hospital prior to travelling.
The Electives Network (TEN)
AMSA is proud to announce an association with The Electives Network (TEN), the ultimate elective planning tool, to help our members to plan their perfect elective. Below are some of the reasons that make TEN such a fantastic resource to AMSA members:
- TEN has an interactive planner designed to make planning your elective a breeze; you can tailor search options, shortlist hospitals and get great tips to help you get everything organised in time.
- TEN publishes feedback and case studies from students who have been to hospitals listed in our database, so you get the latest information about electives direct from the students who have done it.
- TEN sends a monthly newsletter which contains feature articles on all sorts of issues that can pop up in your elective, helping you to stay ahead of the game.
- TENs interactive notice board provides up-to-the-minute information about things that might affect your plans, like hospitals changing their acceptance criteria, new tools for medical students and competitions that could help you earn a little extra for your elective fund.
- TEN isn’t just a tool; it’s an interactive community with an active presence on sites like Facebook where students can exchange ideas and information about their electives.
- TEN hosts a funding database that provides students with details of where it might be possible to get some extra funds for that dream elective.
- TEN has staff in both hemispheres who are both knowledgeable and dedicated to helping you plan your elective, so if you get stuck with your planning, you can just shout the TEN team.
- TEN contains information on medical insurance for your elective, as well as providing information on where you can get your indemnity insurance.
- The TEN database covers both organised and independent electives, so students have resources on TEN whether travelling solo or using a provider to take the stress out of electives.
The Electives Network is a not-for-profit organisation that was established in 2001 by Dr Gordon Hamilton to provide students with a plethora of elective opportunities that didn’t require hours of trawling the internet. This ethos is carried on by the TEN team today, with new providers, hospitals and opportunities constantly being added to the site, as well as annual updates to the 2,500 hospital strong database!
TEN operates a subscription system to allow medical students all over the world the chance to use their extensive hospital database and the variable subscription charge means that you can choose how long you access the site for. What’s more, ASMA students can increase the length of their subscription for free by referring friends to TEN, so not only will you be helping your mates with stress-free elective planning, you’ll be giving yourself longer access to the ultimate elective planning tool.