Electives at medical school

Find out what an elective is and get tips on choosing what to do. You'll also find resources to help you on your way.

What is an elective?

An elective is a period spent away from your medical school, often abroad. Many students say it's one of their most memorable experiences. The timing of the elective and how long it lasts depends on your medical school, but they are normally for 6-12 weeks.

Choosing what to do

Making decisions is an important part of being a doctor so choosing your elective is a good opportunity to test yourself. Your elective gives you the chance to find out more about yourself and what you want to do in the future. It allows you to explore a particular area of medicine or something different, such as research or teaching.

You can choose from a wide range of experiences. You may want to:

It’s up to you to organise your elective. Explore a range of options and start your research as soon as possible. Certain opportunities, such as working in top US hospitals, are very popular, so you may need to make contact up to two years in advance.

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