International Medical Electives
Global Surgery Electives
One of the highlights of medical school is the ability to go on an elective abroad, with students from high-income countries (HICs) often visiting low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Holidays are cheaper in these countries with fewer regulations regarding what medical students can and cannot do. The allure of extravagant holidays, within a student’s budget and the ability to carry out medical procedures that would not be allowed in the UK results in many students preferring to spend their elective in LMICs rather than in HICs.
However, with global partnerships becoming increasingly about equality, it shines light on these electives as perhaps not being so just for those living in LMICs. Oxford University boasts of various grants specifically for pupils from these countries to help them experience the same luxuries that students from HICs do. This is not a country-wide phenomenon nor, more importantly, a global phenomenon.
In order to help decrease the current inequalities between HICs and LMICs electives, the global surgery group Oxford are working in close collaboration with the Electives Network (TEN) to create partnerships between medical students in HICs and those in LMICs. TEN is a free, online resource with information regarding a wide range of hospitals across the globe that offer elective placements. Students are able to view previous reports on electives at each hospital and find contact details to make elective planning stress-free. It was originally created by Oxford students after they struggled to organise and complete their own elective. Now, they too are aware of these inequalities in electives and are joining the Oxford global surgery group in trying to minimise the discrepancies by creating a global network of students who can be more connected than ever through videoconferencing technology. In the short term, this is beneficial as it will enable students to be hosted whilst abroad on their elective and meet new people who live there. Students from LMICs will hopefully find it easier to come to the UK, perhaps with aid from their partner in the HIC. In the long-term it will create a network of students across the world, who can work together on improving the surgical field as equal partners.