Electives at medical school

This page explains what an elective is and offers tips on choosing what to do. Resources are given for further information.

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 during your clinical studies.

female doctor with patient in caste

Choosing what to do

The elective is an opportunity to find out more about yourself and what you want to do in the future. It can allow 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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