Having your healthcare placement rotation in your home country is a great idea since you are in a familiar setting, with a familiar culture and tradition and sometimes people. However, choosing to undertake your healthcare placement abroad in a new setting could do you more good as you get to learn more about healthcare and specifically medicine from a global perspective. You also get to interact with new cultures and traditions and get to appreciate them and lastly you learn more about medical conditions that are alien to your home setting. As exciting as it may seem to be, one of the greatest challenges that students face is deciding on a perfect destination for their placements abroad. Having worked with Elective Africa for the last couple of years, assisting students in securing their healthcare placements overseas, below are some questions you need to ask yourself in the process of deciding on your destination selecting your perfect destination
- What are the General rules on international clinical placements?
Different countries have different rules on international healthcare placements.
This is a very important factor to consider as some countries have very strict rules and a lot of requirements and processes for students traveling from abroad to be able to get immersed in their healthcare system. If you are a medical student looking to get hands-on experience or looking into undertaking your new doctor residency, make sure that the destination or country that you chose has policies that will allow you to have hands-on experience and of course under mentorship and supervision. Check out for testimonials from past participants and the kind of experience they were able to get. If possible, you could also request that you are connected to some past participants to get a glimpse of how their experience was like. Am sure if you are a medical student or a new doctor you wouldn’t want to travel across continents just to be limited to observation and shadowing.
- What are the Visa policies and costs?
Before you settle on a specific destination for your healthcare placement make sure that you do thorough research on the visa policies of that particular country. You can contact your embassy or if you chose to travel with placement organizer like Elective Africa. Some countries have very strict regulations which may give you a headache by the time you get your visa while others are not very strict. Other countries have quite expensive visas while others are cheap thus make sure that you chose a country that will not give you a nightmare in acquiring a visa
- How is the General safety?
Safety is a very important aspect while choosing any destination. You do not want to go to a place where your life may feel threatened in any way. Choose destinations that you will be free to walk around without feeling threatened. To ensure the safety of your destination, consult with your program advisors, your embassy and see if any past participants have had any form of insecurity. Check out for travel advisories and warnings if any. Another great way of determining the safety of a location is to check the popularity or the numbers of students that travel to that particular destination for their placements. Past testimonials help in giving a lot of information on this.
- Which Language is Spoken?
You, of course, want to garner as much experience as possible for your clinical rotation abroad or pre-health shadowing exposure and language should not be a barrier. Therefore you have to know the level of interaction you would like to have with the local community in terms of communication. One question you perhaps need to ask yourself is “ are you comfortable with a location where a language that you do not understand is spoken?” If you are, then you can proceed to have your placement in such a destination and seek to have an interpreter. If you are not, then you have to choose a location where at least a language that you understand is spoken by the larger majority
- What are Your University’s or school’s requirements?
It is always advisable to consult with your school to understand the requirements for undertaking a placement abroad before settling down for a particular destination. Some institutions bar their students from undertaking placements is some places and it is therefore very important to consult with your school and especially if you are seeking to undertake your healthcare placement for credit
- What are the Activities?
While seeking to travel abroad to undertake your placement abroad, of course, you do not want to spend your entire time at the hospital. During your free time, you will want to undertake a variety of activities. List down all the activities or kind of places that you would want to visit and match with the destinations options that you have. Do you want to do more of wildlife safaris? Do you want to do more of beach activities? Do you want to do more of mountain climbing and hiking?Are there any famous landmarks, sights, or tourist attractions close by that you have heard of and you would like to visit? Do you love night clubbing and how’s the night life? What is there to do when you’re not in the hospital?
Whatever activity you would want to do, make sure that you chose a destination that offers them so as to give you a satisfactory experience.
- What is the Program Costs and your budget?
Having considered all the above factors the other important factors to consider is your budget compared to the program costs on each destination. While some destinations may be offering the same kind of experience, the costs may differ and this depends on the logistics and economy of a country. In such a case, it is important that you consider a destination that fits within your budget.
Having given you above tips to consider before choosing your travel destinations, it is important that you do your research appropriately and chose the destination that perfectly suits you without any future regrets and whatever destination you chose, be proactive and open minded to bring the best out of your experience while on ground.