It is our belief that students who have the opportunity to undertake medical electives in Third World countries, emerge as better doctors and nurses with improved clinical skills. The range and scope of clinical practice undertaken on such electives is normally way beyond anything they might hope to experience in the UK, resulting in improved patient communication, diagnostics and overall confidence.
AMECA has set up a database of elective placements and contacts in Africa; if you are interested in finding a hospital placement please register and search here.
To date, £51,000 has been donated in bursary awards for medical, nursing and physiotherapy students to enable them to undertake their electives in a variety of African locations. Their gratitude is palpable and the following quotes from students say it better than we could ever hope to.
Your fortunate position allows you to witness, participate in, assist with and even practice on patients with a myriad of conditions that you normally only read about in dog-eared text books or hear about in stuffy lecture theatres. Like rivers in perpetual flood, our hospitals provide us with ceaseless currents of patient load, more than enough to sate our growing medical appetites.” (Student elective in South Africa)
I could never explain how this experience had affected me, brought into focus so many things about health care, both good and bad and about myself. Problems of accessibility and poverty and how they affect health care, lack of a common language, limited resources; issues of how to attract doctors to remote areas to serve a population very much in need. About myself, I learned that there a fine balance between learning to deal with pain without losing sensitivity to the people we try to help...I learned to face my fears.” (Student elective in South Africa)
Overall the variety of hospital work, outlying clinics and involvement in this unique community and setting made for a superb elective. I feel this placement has given me far more confidence ahead of my first foundation year as a doctor and I would whole-heartedly recommend DGMH as an elective placement for anyone who is keen for a significant culture change, a varied and challenging clinical experience and an opportunity to serve in Africa.” (Student elective in Malawi)
As well as seeing and dealing with multiple acute cases, including encephalitis, acute GI bleeds, stroke, acute liver failure (Hepatitis B is endemic in Ghana) and acute sepsis I also had the opportunity to deal with many acute tropical illnesses rarely seen in the UK such as tuberculosis, malaria and enteric fever. I was encouraged under supervision of an excellent registrar to make my own clinical decisions and then receive feedback on those decisions. This vastly improved my confidence in clinical medicine. In addition I also had the opportunity on an isolated occasion when other medical personnel were unavailable to take part in the resuscitation of an acutely unwell encephalitis patient with a colleague. Situations like this further allowed me to exercise my clinical skills gained from my time at medical school and refine them before starting my clinical job in August.” (Student elective in Ghana)