A medical elective is an amazing opportunity for all medical students, adequate time should be given for preparation to ensure your elective is enjoyable, educational and safe. The Medical Education Journal published a useful article titled ‘Recommendations for undergraduate medical electives: a UK consensus statement’. It details important considerations for all medical students embarking on a medical elective. We have listed the recommendations consolidated by the 30 participating UK medical schools. We strongly advise reading the full article and we encourage medical students to contact responsible individuals within their medical school to receive clarification on these recommendations.
Click to read more: Recommendations for undergraduate medical electives
Millennium Park Abuja is the largest public park in Abuja covering, approximately 32 hectares. It is located in the Maitama district of the federal capital territory. The Millennium park was designed by he Italian architect Manfredi Nicoletti,commissioned in December 2003 by Queen Elizabeth II.
Its a lovely place for bird watching, a picnic, walks, jogging, other outdoor and group activities.
Photo Credit: Travel Start Blog
This is definitely a spot to visit while on your elective in Lagos as a group or even by yourself. I went with some lovely friends and we easily arrived at the centre by taxi. The cost of entry and canopy walk is relatively inexpensive N2000 (approximately £4-5/$5-6). We enjoyed the grounds and canopy walk with another group, friendly and informative guides.
The grounds have some beautiful birds including peacocks, we were told the swamp region had snakes, to be honest I was glad I did
not see this! There were many areas we could relax and play megasized
board games like chess.
I enjoyed the canopy walk the most. The view was beautiful! The canopy is quite high (one of the highest in Africa), so its best to avoid if you have a fear of heights. Always stay hydrated with a bottle of water, although there is a small canteen you can buy some refreshments from.
Also remember to take an extra something in
case it rains, like an umbrella or foldable raincoat – in my case I had neither
and got wet, but the showers didn’t last too long. Also appropriate shoes would be best, otherwise you’ll feel the need to wash your feet at a tap at the end of the walk like we all did! haha
Written by Wumi Oworu
This is definitely a spot to visit while on your elective in Abuja or Gwagwalada. After shopping at the at Shoprite in the Central Business District, Abuja, I visited the Abuja Arts and Craft Village, just few minutes walk away.
There are many beautiful authentic, hand crafted jewellery items, small furniture items, baskets, mats, sculptures, pottery, paintings, other art pieces and fashion items which vary in price. This is a great spot to buy for holiday souvenirs and gifts for your loved ones at home. Definitely bring your A game and be ready to bargain!
Written by Wumi Oworu
Most medical schools or hospitals have clear guidelines on the vaccinations they expect their students or employees to have received. Therefore I would advise you to look at the guidelines of the medical school/hospital/other medical environment you belong to and those of your desired elective location.
I’d advise the following vaccinations: Cholera, Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Meningococcal Meningitis, Poliomyelitis, Rabies, Tetanus, Typhoid, Yellow Fever (Yellow Fever certificate is required at the airport and will need to be shown at passport control)
There are a variety of anti-malarials available, some more specific for Nigeria, its important you receive advice from a doctor or pharmacist before making a purchase. Make sure you are fully aware of the course for the specific antimalarial you have chosen, side effects and drug interactions if you are taking other medication.
Once you know what antimalarial you would like to buy consider buying the generic medication rather than the brand name – this will save you money! You can also calculate the exact number of tablets you need (included before and after travel needs) so you won’t have left over medication.
It may also be helpful for you to purchase some anti-emetics, anti-diarrhoeal, simple analgesia (such as paracetamol) and antihistamines. Getting diarrhoea within the first few days of arriving in Nigeria because your GI system is getting used to the pepper, leaf soups and heat is not the best welcome gift!!
Other resources (mostly relevant to the UK, so please look for the equivalent for your country):
If you have any medical or mental health conditions, seek medical advice from your local doctor before making any definitive plans or payments towards your Nigerian elective.
All medications should be purchased after a medical consultation and with a prescription. All medications should be used as prescribed by your medical practitioner.
Name: Abiola Adeogun
Country of study: United Kingdom
Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria
Elective Period: 28/03/16 – 22/04/16
Duration of Elective: 4 weeks
Speciality: Cardiology, Diabetes and Endocrine, Neurology and Respiratory Medicine
A typical week included attending ward rounds and clinics attending occasional teaching with the doctors.
- What 3 things did you learn?
1) Making a diagnosis without relying on e.g. imaging and test results.
2) Management of tropical diseases.
3) The structure of the healthcare system in Nigeria.
- What were your most enjoyable moments during your elective?
Being able to go to theatre.
- What similarities and differences did you notice whilst on your elective in Nigeria, in comparison to the healthcare service you have witness whilst at medical school?
Differences in doctor patient relationship, communications skills, organisation and resources.
- What were your goals? Where you able to achieve your goals, and how?
To have a better understanding of healthcare system in Nigeria and be able to compare team dynamics. To identify medical ethical challenges in the hospital and their implications. To explore the possibility of working as a Doctor in Nigeria in the future.
- If you had the opportunity to reorganise or redo your elective, what would you change and why?
I’m really glad that I had the opportunity to work in a state hospital and I have no regrets. If I had to redo my electives, I think I would prefer to work in a smaller hospital or private hospital as I feel I would have been more involved and the experience would have been more hands on. I felt the environment in the state hospital that I worked at was sometimes too busy and lacked organisation.
- Looking forward, how has your experience impacted your career and personal life?
A lot of communication with patents was in Yoruba. As I don’t understand the language I had trouble following some of the consultations. I realise that if I decide to work in Nigeria in the future, I may need to learn the common languages. My cousin was admitted to a private hospital whilst I was in Nigeria. Visiting her at the private hospital enabled me to see what practicing medicine is like in a private hospital, observe doctor-patient interactions and the general work ethos. I think I would prefer to work in a private hospital in Nigeria in the future.
Name: Wumi Oworu
Country of study: United Kingdom
Elective Location: University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, Abuja, Nigeria
Elective Period: 04/04/16 to 27/05/16
Duration of Elective: 8 weeks
Speciality: Obstetrics & Gynaecology
My experience in Nigeria was a wonderful experience, although I have visited Nigeria several times before, this elective period was my first experience of living in Nigeria independently and working in a healthcare setting. Starting at the beginning, I arrived in Gwagwalada on Monday and met with my supervisor Professor Ekele, who briefly described what was to come while at AUTH. I was introduced to the head of the O&G department and the senior class representative from the University of Abuja Medical school, a young man called Etuk, who assisted me with settling in. Etuk showed me to my accommodation and was kind enough to take me to a few places to buy some food, utensils, etc. My accommodation, was a 2-bedroom flat in a block of flats containing only medical students, I had my own bathroom and I shared the kitchen and living room with my flatmate. The accommodation was a few minutes from the hospital, but still on the hospital grounds. The flat was clean and well kept, with good space and the basics. Later that day I met my flat mate Tolu, who was a lovely young woman in her penultimate year of medical school.
During my 8 week placement, I was allocated to one team for 4 weeks, where I joined them on their ward rounds, gynaecology clinics, antenatal and post-natal clinics, theatre sessions and on-call duties. Every week day morning began with a morning meeting, cases that were managed the day before were discussed and assessed. I spent 2 weeks in the labour ward, observing and assisting in the management of labour and Caesarean sections. I spent a total of 2 weeks in the gynaecological emergency unit and special care baby unit. During my elective I was taught how to perform vaginal examinations and perform a pelvic examination using a speculum. During antenatal clinics I had the opportunity to examine numerous women at various gestations. I attended to a few patients independently under the supervision of consultants in the gynaecology clinics. I performed investigations such as pap smears, endocervical swabs and high vaginal swabs. I observed cases that are uncommon in the UK, such as large uterine fibroids, primary presentation of metastatic endometrial cancer and the management of labour in a patient with sickle cell disease. I understand the Nigerian Healthcare system consists of both a private sector and national health service insurance scheme, both with their own advantages and disadvantages. The use of traditional medicine also had an impact on health, I often observed patients with advanced disease because they delayed their presentation to the hospital because they sought cheaper traditional alternatives. I had theopportunity to complete a cross-sectional study titled, ‘The Perception of pregnant women about Caesarean section at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada’. It consisted of 131 pregnant women presenting to ante-natal clinic. I was granted ethics approval for this study. I used interviewer-assisted structured questionnaire to collect data. The acceptance rate was 70%, other literature quoted acceptance rates of 7-30%. The study showed a higher acceptance rate amongst pregnancy women who were older, married, multiparous, educated and have had a previous Caesarean section. This developed my research skills; it also exposed me to the difficulties of international research such as language barrier and limited resourced such as electricity, internet and time constraints.
I enjoyed the food to the absolute maximum, I probably ate grilled catfish at least twice a week and utilised the hospital canteen and ate pounded yam with egusi (my favourite) often. I definitely ate well while in Nigeria. The heat Gwagwalada was a different experience entirely, one I have never experienced before, I learnt to avoid being outdoors between 9am-4pm, to be well stocked up on bottled water and bought a mini-fridge as soon as I arrived (to the manifold wisdom of my mother).
When not working at the hospital, I often enjoyed myself in Abuja with my cousin and the new friends I’d made. I appreciated the order and subtleness of Abuja, in comparison to the hustle of Lagos.
I also had the opportunity to visit Kaduna, which was just a 2 hour drive away from Abuja, or an hour flight from Lagos. I also visited an orphanage a couple of times and gave some assistance.
I wish I had taken the opportunity to visit Jos, a popular city known for their cool climate, internationally known for their medical education at the University of Jos, as well as other things. Once my elective was complete, I travelled to Lagos to spend some time with friends and family.
My elective has enriched my undergraduate education, I developed basic obstetric and gynaecological skills which will be useful throughout my career. I have improved my knowledge and skills in maternal and foetal medicine. It has also given me an appreciation for the healthcare system available to patients in the UK. I have experienced another element of medicine that I will always be grateful for.
My experience has made me more passionate about pursing a medical career in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. It has also exposed me to potential opportunities in the Nigeria, especially for someone like myself – young, ambitious and open-minded.
As a student doctor (and potential student doctor) you have developed skills and acquired knowledge that can benefit many people around you, you do not have to travel to the other side of the globe to have a positive impact! It is amazing the opportunities you have as student doctors to support the health of our local community and other communities around the world. A medical elective placement is part of almost all medical degrees around the world, and once you have found what you would like to spend your time doing, the next step is to source some funding!
How are you going to raise the money for this!?
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Search for grants, bursaries (and low-interest loans) offered by your medical school, college, university, local authority, charities, businesses, etc.
2. Go Fund Me – although, to really get people (and strangers) to part with their hard earned money, you really need to:
a. Clearly layout the purpose of your fundraising and show a breakdown of your costs
b. Justify why you are deserving of their donation.
c. Explain how this experience will truly benefit not just yourself but the community you are going to help.
d. Demonstrate your own personal efforts to raising money i.e. part-time work, etc.
e. Consider, the evidence will you be able to share with your supporters, i.e. a written report, weekly blog post, pictures and videos, etc. See this as a ‘thank you’ for their support.
3. Part-time work for several weeks/months.
4. Create an eBay account an sell unwanted items and new products.
5. Auction or sell you gifts/talents/skills with in your community (i.e. family, university, church, etc); i.e. put on a small talent show; offer to baby sit, do household chores; cake sales, car boot sales, etc. for an hourly wage.
These are just a few of our suggestions; please help others out by commenting in the comment box below if you have any other ideas too! If you have instructions or a secret formula, even better! Lol
Photo Credit: PhotoPin
What is Depression?
Depression is a mental illness that is predominantly associated with the following symptoms: low mood, lack of energy and loss of enjoyment in our usual activities. Student doctors and practicing doctors can say these core symptoms of low mood, anergy and anhedonia quicker than saying pseudopseduohypoparathyroidism. But identifying these symptoms within oneself is a much slower process.
Depression during medical school is not a new phenomenon, and despite our understanding of mental health is improving, many student doctors are struggling daily with depression. There are various factors during medical school that can contribute to ill mental health:
- Lack of sleep due to a busy schedule.
- High expectations – from your yourself, medical school, parents, family friends, etc.
- Financial strain – the accumulation of student loans, balancing paid work and studies, etc.
- Emotional strain – wanting to provide the best care you can to patients.
- Personal responsibilities and commitments – being a parent, friendship commitments, relationship commitments, carer duties, etc.
- The intensity of constant assessments, persistent appraisals, exam after exam, etc.
- Unfortunately some environments have a stench of over-competitiveness, over-compensation, intimidation, etc.
- A new environment, new city, new country, new friends, etc. – medical school may be the first big change you have experienced in life so far.
So how can we lighten the load?
Discussing mental health is often thought of as taboo, both in the medical profession and public; therefore to speak of it, requires courage and encouragement (having both simultaneously is not easy).
So how can we lighten the load? How can we start healthy habits that lead to a healthy lifestyle?
At Medics’ Inn we do not claim to be psychiatrists, but we are experts in seeking help! That is what we urge you all to do.
If you are struggling with your work load…seek help.
If you are experiencing financial strain…seek help.
If you are second guessing a career in medicine…seek help.
If you are having difficulty balancing your responsibilities…seek help.
If you feel sad and lonely…seek help.
Seek help from those around you, your supervisor, your tutor, your personal GP/doctor, etc.
Sometimes, because we do not want to ‘bother’ anyone with our issues, we dig ourselves into a hole. But the earlier you seek help, the easier it will be to come out of that hole.
Photo Credit: PhotoPin