A clinical elective or attachment abroad is a great way to start planning your professional career. And if you’re a medical student who dreams of getting into a residency program in USA or UK then a clinical elective outside your country is a tremendous opportunity which not only boosts your confidence (by working in an international hospital setting) but also helps you securing a residency spot by making your resume (CV) more competitive.
If you are planning to apply for a training / non-training job in the U.K after graduating from med school, a clinical elective in the UK will make a huge difference in securing a hospital job. Your recent clinical experience and experience of working abroad are of prime focus when it comes to hospitals weighing candidates during their selection process.
This article is based on the UK electives experience of Ajmal Khan, a final year MBBS student at Bolan Medical College, Quetta. 🙂
Why doing clinical electives in the U.K?
Here are some of the most compelling reasons why you should consider doing clinical electives/attachments in U.K and ways it would benefit you in future:
1. Landing your dream residency spot
Yes, that’s the key reason why you should consider doing clinical electives in the UK. The rationale behind this is simple: hospitals always prefer candidates with experience of working in their country. Because to them, it appears more evident that you know how their system works and so you’re more likely to secure a residency spot compared to a candidate with no prior experience of working in their setup. Clinical electives in your home country also adorn your C.V, so do check the AKU Electives as well if you’re from Pakistan.
2. An opportunity for you to break stereotypes
A commonly held belief here in Pakistan or the subcontinent about the British people is: Brits are not welcoming OR they don’t like us etc. However, the reality is completely contradictory (explained here).
3. Enriching clinical exposure and learning
The United Kingdom ranks #3 in the list of Best Countries of the World according to the TIME Magazine and #4 in the Top 10 Public Health Care Systems in the World by USNews. So, it’s a huge opportunity for you to be able to work with world-renowned healthcare professionals and have an unprecedented clinical exposure and learning.
4. Hands-on experience with the latest and cutting-edge medical technology
For students coming from Pakistan or the subcontinent, there’s a whole new world waiting for them to be explored. A clinical elective in the UK is an opportunity for you to experience the latest advancements and procedures in the field of medicine. This, in other words, would serve as a chance for doing a self-analysis of where we stand in healthcare globally and how we can make improvements in our own system.
Yes, this is the fun part. 🙂 While your stay on Tier 4 Visa as a clinical elective student in the U.K, you can make the most of your visit by going out and touring new places, meeting people and making new friends.
Places that I visited:
- Buckingham Palace
- London Eye and London Bridge
- London Museum
- Emirates Stadium and The White Hart Lane, London
My Clinical Electives Experience in the U.K
- Hospital: University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust
- City: Birmingham
- Elective Specialty: Neurosurgery
- Elective Supervisor: Dr. Shabin Joshi (Nepal) (Sub-speciality: Neuro-oncology — minimally invasive surgeries pertaining to the brain and spinal tumors.)
- Residency: On-campus
- Elective Student Name: Ajmal Khan, Bolan Medical College, Quetta (Batch: 2011-12)
- Duration of Electives: From 3rd February 2017 to 6th March 2017
Overall expenses of UK clinical electives
- Electives fees: NONE (this was a free elective, I wasn’t charged)
- Visa & consultation fees: Rs. 12,000 PKR ($120 USD or 86 British Pounds)
- Air tickets: Rs. 60,000 return air tickets
- Accommodation: Rs. 30,000 PKR per month (meals not included)
- Traveling Expenses: Rs. 16000 per month (You have to buy a pre-paid travel card to travel anywhere in West Midlands)
- Meals: 10-12 British Pounds per (maximum)
- TOTAL EXPENSES: Rs. 250,000 (1800 British Pounds roughly)
It all started when I passed my 2nd prof exams (3rd-year MBBS). I was weighing between career choices: USMLE or PLAB? I used the social media as my power tool to access information on various Facebook pages and groups and so I connected with medical students and professionals from around the world which then led me to choose PLAB as my final career path leading to the UK.
So, subsequently, I started my online research on prerequisites necessary to increase one’s chances of getting into a dream residency program in the UK. I came across different articles which suggested U.K clinical electives as a MUST HAVE. And that is when I started thinking about going to the UK for a clinical attachment because I wanted to make my C.V stand out and get medical residency of my own choice which is neurosurgery. 🙂
Procedure of Applying for Clinical Electives in the UK
It varies from hospital to hospital but in general, you have to make an independent search, find a hospital that interests you and contact their electives office through emails. They will guide you through the whole process.
You should plan your electives ahead of time by looking into their electives calendar. Here’s the calendar of UHCW:
Mode of difficulty: Easy
Applying for Visa
The visa application for your UK Clinical Electives is the trickiest part of the entire process. You will need to present strong documentation (bank statements and papers proving that you’ll return after completion of your program) in order for getting the visa approval.
You can apply for the visa on your own or get consultation services of private agencies. But I would suggest that you do it yourself for saving cost and for your own experience.
For more details on UK Visa, please check here. 🙂
** No IELTS Required
Here’s what I experienced during this incredible journey to the United Kingdom… I hope readers will find it useful. 🙂
Differences between us and them:
- The U.K healthcare system is more patient-centered meaning that everything revolves around to the patient’s needs, beliefs and concerns. The treatment plan is devised after thorough consideration of the aforementioned factors.
- Streamlined and evidence-based treatment.
- Each clinic had 10-15 patients and the minimum time per patient was at least 10-15 minutes.
- The concept of private practice was very scarce as the hospitals were run and funded by National Health Service (NHS).
- Different departments i.e radiology, oncology etc worked together for a single patient.
- Medical ethics were strictly followed such that even consultants/professors had to knock and ask for patient’s permission before entering their rooms.
- Doctors (and even students) were provided generous perks and incentives i.e meals, coffee and access to TV and other stuff for creating a work-friendly environment. All of this was funded by the NHS.
- Extreme safety measures were adopted (state-of-art sterilization techniques etc) for minimizing the risk of hospital acquired infections.
- There were so many teams of healthcare professionals (i.e paramedics, nurses, physiotherapists and nutritionists etc) working together under one roof making sure that the patient gets the best treatment.
Medical Decision Making Sessions (MDMS)
This was something that I loved exploring at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire. The Medical Decision Making Sessions (MDMS) is a new method adopted by the developed countries to help tackle challenging and hard-to-diagnose medical cases. It comes into play when decision making becomes hard for a single individual. So, various teams including Oncology, Pathology, and Radiology from UHCW would sit together in a conference hall and discuss the patient’s case online with the other leading healthcare professionals from different hospitals around the U.K.
Each department had two MDMS sessions scheduled per week at their own MDMS conference room at UHCW. For me, I found these sessions very interesting and highly productive. These sessions allowed me to sit together with experts and observe their discussions leading to a more accurate diagnosis and proper a treatment plan.
Working inside the Operation Theatre
- I assisted various surgeries in the department of neurosurgery at UHCW. I learned to scrub which is often not done right in our practice.
- The surgeries were planned, extremely safe, minimally invasive and patients were thoroughly counseled by the surgeon days before the procedure.
- The operation theater comprised of various teams which mainly included plastics surgeons, radiologists, and anesthesiologists.
- The staff assisting doctors inside the O.T was highly trained.
I attended the following surgeries:
- Craniotomies for various pathologies
- Spinal cord decompression
- Ulnar nerve compartment syndrome surgeries
- Trigeminal nerve injections
- AV Clipping
- Ventriculoperitoneal Shunts
- As an elective student at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire, I had the privilege to attend classes alongside the university’s own medical students. 🙂
- The student-teacher ration per class was: 1 to 5 (maximum).
- They had conferences and presentations every week at UHCW offering credit hours and certificates to the participants.
A culture of courtesy, respect, and empathy
- All doctors were mainly immigrants which debunked the stereotyping of Brits being unwelcoming to people of the subcontinent. There was no room for any type of discrimination!
- The staff was very friendly and cooperative.
- The hospital fostered an innate culture of courtesy and respect. The staff and doctors would hold doors for each other and for the patients (I loved it! 🙂 )And it was considered very impolite if a person would not do so.
- The consultants and professors were very kind, supportive.
A clinical audit involves identification of a problem, its resolution through quality improvement and implementation of new strategies for improving pre-existing methods.
I did two audits (for which I received certification from my supervisor):
- Trigeminal neuralgia and its surgical management
- Referral database audit for six months
The clinical audits are very important as they make your C.V stand out during the selection process.
That’s it! 🙂
If you have any queries regarding the application procedure and visa, please feel free to drop us your questions below in the comment box. We’ll get back to you soon. 🙂