MEDICAL ELECTIVE IN THE UNITED KINGDOM – A PERSPECTIVE FROM A PAKISTANI MEDICAL STUDENT
Hey, My name is Muhammad Hamza and I am a final year medical student in Pakistan, stuck at home due to covid-19 pandemic. I wanted to share my experience of obtaining medical elective in the UK as a Pakistani international medical graduate (IMG).
I began looking for medical electives in the UK last year during June- July. I was looking for experience in an acute setting (emergency medicine, acute medicine, etc.) because I felt that it would be more hands on and I would be better able to learn and get a letter of recommendation (LOR) in an ER. I think that it is imperative that you set your own goals and reasons for choosing a specialty for your elective.
The next bit was location and I was pretty much open to almost the entire UK but this could be different for you and therefore harder to find an elective. I wasn’t too keen on giving IELTS or paying for my electives so I crossed out almost every major university hospital. This too is dependent upon you and your preferences. Personally I felt large hospitals have too many moving parts and complexities and I could easily be lost in there without gaining any actual experience or personalized letter of recommendations. So, I preferred district general hospitals (DGHs) for my elective.
I narrowed down my search to almost 20-30 places in acute psychiatry, emergency medicine and acute medicine. After this, I began the arduous process of applying for these places. I made a good CV with different sections highlighting my achievements in research, quality improvement, academics, and leadership and presentation skills. I also added a section to list my clinical skills as well. I got quite a few acceptances from many good DGHs but it was the Bangor Hospital of Betsi Cadwaldar University health board (one of the seven Welsh health boards) that sealed the deal.
Bangor hospital is located in a quaint welsh university town – Bangor a few hundred miles from Manchester and Liverpool. It was actually surprisingly accessible from many international airports thanks to direct rail connection. I worked for two weeks in emergency department after my induction. I did all the things F1s were doing like taking histories, examinations, taking bloods, taking cultures, sending bloods and cultures, ordering X-rays, chaperoning my patients to X-rays and so forth. I did the next two weeks in acute medicine because emergency department was deemed too risky for me due to covid-19 pandemic.
I did most of the above mentioned things along with learning a lot of acute medicine. I was involved in managing acute MI, sepsis, delirium, diabetic ketoacidosis etc. in the resuscitation bay of the Emergency department. In acute medicine, we had patients who were a little bit more medically stable than Emergency department and it was sort of a gateway to other medical specialties as well. I saw patients with cirrhosis, renal dysfunction, acute cholecystitis etc. In the rest of my two weeks I was involved in research with my consultant due to the corona virus pandemic.
I think my bets paid off as I was given adequate time and learning at Bangor hospital. I also got adequate practice of getting bloods and obtaining I/V access. I think that was because I chose a DGH and I am really happy that I got to do so much.
I roamed quite a bit in Bangor, visiting the pier and local shops but my explorer within didn’t get its fair share of sightseeing because of the coronavirus pandemic. But, Bangor was lovely to visit and explore. It was quiet, full of beauty and nature which I think was exactly like my temperament and I hope that I get to visit it again pretty soon.
Be proactive and early in your application process
Try to find out your preferences in location and hospital early on
Make a presentable CV and apply in all the places that fit your criteria
Hamza’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org