Electives are an undisputed highlight of any medical degree. The opportunity to use the skills developed through them, anywhere across the world, is something not all university students have the chance to do.
So it’s fair enough to want to make the best possible use of yours. So how do you go about making your elective effective? To be effective an elective must allow you to improve lives directly, gain new skills so you can improve lives in the future or, ideally, both of these.
That’s where Selfless’ Elective Aid programme comes in. Every year Selfless takes a group of medical students to rural Bangladesh to experience a completely different side of healthcare. Through shadowing experienced health professionals such as nurses, doctors and surgeons, students get the chance to see how medical care is delivered in a setting where resources are often extremely limited.
They set up health camps to provide healthcare to a wide range of individuals in need, enabling students to implement their medical training whilst producing a benefit for often neglected communities. People are willing to travel hundreds of miles to attend these camps for the chance to see a doctor and every student makes an enormous contribution to the healthcare of the community, constantly seeing patients.
What’s more the programme provides plenty of opportunities to learn new skills. The variety of conditions, particularly less common ones, is notable compared with working in the UK. This gives students the chance to use certain aspects of medical training rarely used here in the UK, as well as the prospect of acquiring completely new skills. The programme is often themed, in 2015 this was ‘fightfistula’ while previous years have focused on a range of topics including cataract screenings.
There are undoubtedly a lot of options out there when it comes to choosing your medical elective. Many allow people to develop skills, some to contribute directly, but few allow students the chance to have a significant impact on the health of a community whilst experiencing an entirely different culture. So if that sounds like something you’d like to get out of your elective, why not apply?