December Newsletter

December 2017

This December issue has a Down Under theme, with a great case study from a student whose elective took place in Melbourne. We hope you enjoy reading a little about a UK student’s Melbourne experience – and if you have any feedback about your time on your electives, leave us some here

Featured hospital

Featured hospital

An excellent opportunity for students interested in Primary healthcare for remote communities. The Amazon Hope project is an unusual river boat hospital project that reaches over 100,000 people in remote communities annually. » read more

Featured country

Featured country

Peru is a developing country with a wide range of medical facilities. The country has spectacular scenery and a friendly population who will make you feel very welcome during your stay. » read more

Cardiothoracic Surgery in Melbourne


My elective consisted of 7 weeks in Australia. I spent 4 weeks with the Cardiothoracic Surgery team at St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, and then my final 3 weeks travelling from Melbourne towards Central Australia.

About the hospital

St Vincent’s Hospital is one of five large tertiary hospitals in Melbourne. It was established by the Sisters of Charity as a hospital for the sick and poor and now operates as an extensive public teaching hospital. The hospital has particular strengths in Cardiac, Neuroscience, Gastrointestinal, Microsurgery and Plastic Surgery and is well-equipped with a high doctor-to-patient ratio. Due to its high standard of facilities and role as a referral centre, St Vincent’s will expose you to the best variety of conditions and patients which will further aid your elective experience. In addition, St Vincent’s Hospital is home to many medical students and so the opportunity for teaching and learning will be maximised.

My time at St Vincent’s

During my placement, I was able to work with the cardiothoracic surgery team Monday- Friday. The team was split with multiple consultants, one registrar and one intern based on thoracics, with the remaining consultants, registrars, residents and interns based on cardiac. Consultants were based in theatre, clinic and other administrative tasks whilst also holding their own private practices. The office in which the cardiothoracic team were based was shared with the respiratory team and therefore as an added bonus I was able to spend some time with them for the four weeks that I spent there. This was actually very beneficial as I was able to appreciate the physiological and surgical side of thoracic medicine.

You can read the whole case study here

World AIDS Day Australia

On Friday 1st December it is World AIDS Day.

According to World AIDS Day Australia, 20 Australians are diagnosed with HIV each week.

World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year. It raises awareness across the world and in the community about HIV and AIDS. It is a day for the community to show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died of AIDS related conditions or other conditions associated with HIV.

To find out more about what is happening across Australia this Friday, click here

TEN and Hamilton Awards

The Electives Network is pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 TEN Award and Hamilton Award. The question posed for this year’s awards was: “Is an elective still a relevant part of a medical degree?”

Congratulations to Oliver Mckinney – winner of the TEN Award, and to April Wong – winner of the Hamilton Award!

Massive well done to both, and we hope this will help with the costs of your electives.

Read on for a taster of Oliver’s submission:

“Throughout our undergraduate training, we have dipped our toes into most specialities for a fleeting second, sampled the workload and desperately searched for a spark, to ignite a career flame. Motivated primarily by our insatiable fear of failure, fuelled by the rigors of examinations, assessments and constant feedback, we have brushed off the old romantic model of medical student life. Instead we have adopted an academically proven, mass production form of medical education designed to march us through 5 years of quality control with the added interest that the job you do, even to the place you do it, is contingent on how you compare to the rest of your year. This foundry of competiveness mixed with the state of our future employer and unprecedented levels of student debt means that my experience of medical school differs greatly from those kindly implementing my £70,000 personal investment plan.”

For a taster of April’s submission:

“The title itself hints a discussion of different opinion towards the relevance of medical electives which necessitate a weighing of the pros and cons of having it…there is no doubt that students will benefit from a steep learning curve be it cultural, clinical, social, medical knowledge, and self-development. It is however, essential to bear in mind our limitations as a student, and recognize that as part of medical profession, our one and only responsibility is towards the patient, to in no way harm them or break the unique relationship of a doctor and patient. To sum up, a medical elective is an experience that could be part of growth and development of medical students, depending on their own capability of learning in an unorthodox way. It does have a stand in a medical degree and should not be viewed as a redundancy.”

DecemBeard Australia

This December, the beard-growers of Australia unite against Bowel Cancer.

According to the facts , one in 11 Australian men will develop bowel cancer in their lifetime. Bowel cancer affects men of all ages – and risk increases every year from age 50. Around 55% of all Australians diagnosed with bowel cancer are men.

Choices you make related to diet, lifestyle, screening and surveillance can influence your bowel cancer risk. Because you can change or modify these risk factors, they are referred to as ‘modifiable’.

Increased age, personal and family health history and hereditary conditions can also influence your bowel cancer risk. Because you cannot change these risk factors, they are referred to as ‘non-modifiable’.

Check out the website to find out more, to donate and to get involved! You can find out more on the website