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It may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of planning an elective, but risk assessments are a vital part of any application and could have a huge impact on your trip. You may have never had to carry out a risk assessment before, and that’s not a problem. We will be with you every step of the way with how to guides and tips on the best way to make the experience stress free.
As part of the elective module, you will most likely be asked to complete a risk assessment by your university. This might feel like pulling teeth or just a hoop to jump through, but there are serious implications that your risk assessment will highlight to consider when taking a placement. This is also an opportunity to reflect on your expectations of an elective and what it may entail.
Take the time to think closely about the country you are heading to for your placement. Even if you are staying in your country of study, there will be risks associated with living there. Check your government’s travel advice for your destination. Are there any recommendations or warnings in place? How can you mitigate these risks should they occur.
This could include any outbreaks or common illnesses in the area such as malaria. Take time in your risk assessment to explore how you will protect yourself (and those around you should you become ill) from contracting something. This may include preparing medication or getting vaccinated before you travel. You should also know the signs and symptoms of common local illnesses in case you need to isolate or seek treatment. All this information should go in your risk assessment.
Some of the best risk assessments we have seen have gone into tremendous detail, including details and contact information for organisations such as counter-terrorism and the emergency services. In the unlikely situation that you need these contacts, how do you intend to communicate with them if you speak a different language?
Next up, you need to zone in on your region or city that you will be living in for the majority of your elective. Are there any risk factors specific to that region such as erratic weather? What can you do to prepare for these – such as knowing where the nearest storm shelter is or knowing the signs for environmental dangers.
Now you need to zone in even smaller to the institution you will be visiting. You should already be familiar with the risks associated with a hospital setting. This includes contamination dangers, sharps management procedure, and more. You must be as vigilant whilst on placement as you would be whilst working at your university hospital and vice versa.
Now consider your travel arrangements. How will you be getting to your placement from your accommodation? Is public transport reliable and safe to use, particularly if you are working late? You should also consider if there are certain cultural expectations when you are out in public, such as clothing or behaviour.
Ultimately the risk assessment should not put you off a placement but should inform you of the value of safety whilst on your elective. The more detail you go into, the better. You will know what to expect and avoid any negative experiences. We are always happy to talk through ideas with you, or you can speak with your academic advisor if you have any issues.