Part 2, The Outside Posting Series
As promised, we are back with a sequel to the ‘Outside Posting Experience: Within the Shores of Nigeria’. And courtesy of the chiefs we’ll be featuring in a minute, we are gracing your screen with something hooge-er today.
Outside rotations, also known as ‘Elective’ or ‘Away’ rotations, give medical students the opportunity to experience the practice of medicine and surgery beyond the confines of their school borders. Here, one can temporarily join a different hospital or healthcare institution, anywhere they choose, be it a different city or a whole new country!
In the last episode, we focused on the experience of those who had theirs within Nigeria and it was really enlightening. (If you missed it, you can click here for all the tales and gists)
This time, we interacted with other members of the 600 level class here in OAU, who had their externships outside the country, and asked similar questions like in the last piece:
- What hospital did you venture off to for your outside posting?
- What motivated you to choose that particular destination?
- How did you navigate the treacherous path of applying for an externship spot?
- What was your overall experience like? Share your one standout moment or a particular aspect of the posting you enjoyed most.
N.B: there are extra tidbits, outside the outlined questions, scattered all over the piece that we’re sure you’d enjoy 😉
Dear readers, what are your anticipations and expectations from this piece? We’re sure you are charged up with the suspense already.
So let’s get right into it!
Location- Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend, United Kingdom.
“Clinic runs for just 3 hours 🙀and you see just 6-7 px“
My elective posting was at the Princess of Wales Hospital, United Kingdom.
Well, I felt I needed more exposure, in a new environment. Also due to the department I wanted to rotate through, I felt the facility was one of the best for such rotation based on their records .
My mentor and I searched for the hospital’s website , contacted the team in charge of medical programs , wrote them multiple times( PLS TAKE NOTE OF “multiple times”), and had to send my curriculum vitae to all the consultants in the department, sent “reminders”, before I got accepted by one of them to be my supervisor.
Trust me, it was fun. My first day was exciting, everyone welcomed me, they got to pronounce my name way better than some Nigerians 😄. Apart from getting to learn more skills and observing procedures and consultation , joining ward rounds, I worked on my ethics and communication skills with patients ( you see this aspect of medicine , it’s so important).
I enjoyed working from 8/9am-4/5pm.
Should I talk about THE FOOD 😩 yep, I never missed a moment of Indian meals. My supervisor was so adamant about having a taste of Indian meals 😄 and my favorite snack- popcorn brownie (yum yum 🤤).
Oh, did I tell you clinic runs for just 3 hours 🙀and you see just 6-7 px.
Got the opportunity of joining a group of world renowned gynecologists where we got to discuss cases and managements.
It was a great experience so far. This won’t have been possible without the consistent reminders/ emails and also having a past experience in the specialty also helped. Hence , try to take part in activities you love, volunteer in programs (either paid or not), as long as you have the experience.
Are there things that can give you an edge when applying to intern in a foreign hospital?
Well, I feel having an experience will give you an edge. For example volunteering in outreaches, joining organization, having leadership skills .Not all hospitals will request for your school result. They never asked for mine . Although,one of the other hospitals I got accepted at requested for my school result during the application. And I was accepted.
However, the hospital I did my elective at only requested for my CV. I feel one thing that helped me was the fact that I have an experience in the specialty I applied to.
Big thanks to the organizations I belong to, and some of the works I’ve done so far.
Location –Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana
Personally, I was amazed by the lecturer-student relationship, which was exemplary and reminiscent of our experiences back home.
My name is Blessing Oladejo, popularly known as Dr Molecule, a sixth-year medical student who embarked on an Outside Posting with my fellow colleagues, namely Adejolaoluwa Olajide, Oku Bassey, and our Honourable Mr. President, Kolade Adegoke.
Our journey to the unseen land of Ghana commenced on May 20, 2023, with the utmost desire to undertake our outside posting at one of the best universities in Ghana, namely KNUST (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology). This experience aimed to broaden our understanding of medicine beyond our homeland, informing our career choices and providing a transient source of enjoyment.
The application process was quite demanding and, sadly, discouraged many along the way. Personally, I had begun applying to various schools in Africa, including Ghana, South Africa, Gambia, and Zambia. However, due to its proximity and relative ease, we decided to pursue our dream in Ghana. Through one of our senior professors, we applied to the university via email and were connected with the International Exchange Administrator. We subsequently received the necessary details and began fulfilling the requirements, including registration and accommodation fees, although we did request some fee waivers.
While processing these requirements, we made arrangements such as obtaining international passports or ECOWAS documents (which allow travel within West African states), acquiring Yellow Cards as proof of yellow fever vaccination, and receiving other necessary vaccinations (unfortunately, we were unable to process our transcripts). All expenses were covered by ourselves with additional support from a few others along the line.
Upon arrival, their reception exceeded our expectations. They provided excellent accommodation, assisted with initial settling procedures, took us out on initial outings, allowed us to join various lectures, facilitated rotations in both Surgery and Medicine, made several new friends, learnt their language (Twi), and a little of their culture. We even had the privilege of enjoying a dinner with the Professor to whom we were assigned before our departure. Personally, I was amazed by the lecturer-student relationship, which was exemplary and reminiscent of our experiences back home.
In conclusion, pursuing an outside posting in Ghana is highly feasible, and we have paved the way for future students in numerous ways. We shared our experiences and possibilities with the International Exchange Administrator, the Accommodation Officer, our Professor, and several others, who were delighted to hear about the potential for future Great Ifumsites.
To embark on your own outside posting, take proactive steps by processing your passport, obtaining vaccination clearance (including a Yellow Card), and ensuring your transcript is up to date. Feel free to approach any of us for more details, and make funds available as you approach the designated period, either through grant applications or personal savings. Once again, pursuing a posting outside your own country is an incredible opportunity!
Location -School of Clinical Medicine and Cambridge University Hospitals
It was really exciting to study at the same university as Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Hans Kreb, Stephen Hawking, James Watson, Francis Crick etc.
I did my outside posting at the University of Cambridge Biomedical Campus, specifically the School of Clinical Medicine and Cambridge University Hospitals. Back in middle of part 5, I started thinking seriously about where I’d like to do my outside posting (which was even a late time to start). I wanted somewhere very prestigious (for networking purposes) and I also wanted something in my specialty of interest which is surgical oncology. Cambridge fit all the criteria I had in mind.
To be honest, the path is only treacherous if you’re looking to apply to somewhere very competitive. I had two places in mind- University of Oxford and University of Cambridge, two of the top 5 universities in the world. Unfortunately, the Oxford application had closed at the time I wanted to apply (apparently, you have to apply two years ahead of time if you’re interested in doing your clinical elective at Oxford University). I was very lucky that the application to Cambridge was still open however I had to act fast because it was closing soon. Mind you that this was just half way through part 5 at the time (over a year before the start of the outside posting).
The application process for University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine/Cambridge University Hospitals is an incredibly rigorous one and occurs in a 3 stage process over a couple of months. It’s easy to give up with all the paperwork and documentation required. The most important selection criteria is obviously your academic abilities as demonstrated in your transcript (having a couple of distinctions certainly gave me an edge). Eventually I was accepted and got a placement in my first choice which was Upper Gastrointestinal Surgery. I was also granted a bursary to cover the full cost of my fees as well as my accommodation expenses following an essay I submitted.
Firstly, Cambridge was fascinating. It was really exciting to study at the same university as Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Hans Kreb, Stephen Hawking, James Watson, Francis Crick etc. Cambridge was teeming with incredibly talented people who were eager to teach and involve you in their work and exciting ground breaking research. It’s no surprise that the university has produced the highest number of Nobel Laureates in the world. I had the opportunity of meeting some very famous icons in Science and Medicine and learning from extremely accomplished and talented individuals.
My Academic Supervisor was very helpful and I assisted on many exciting laparoscopic/robotic surgeries. I also did some very exciting research under my Research Mentor as well. There’s not much I can say here given the word limit but I’ll advice anyone who is smart, talented and hardworking to aim for the stars in every step of your career including your elective rotation.
Location -Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi
“Ọmọ follow who know road“
My elective positing was at The Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi. Presently the 2nd Largest Hospital in Ghana. I wanted exposure and something different and low-key wanted to check out travelling out of my bucket list for the year.
Ọmọ follow who know road I mean, ~spider spider spiderman~ sorry,
But seriously we got through via Professor Komolafe’s neurology network and of course the grace of God.
It was a great experience, at least for a first time, I got the exposure I wanted and the people of Ghana are beautiful too. There were several stand out moments. They have a richly cherished cultural heritage, their accent makes me laugh, they still spend coins and they are patient group of people. And of course I prefer my Nigerian jollof rice.🌚
Tell us how it was going with your guys from Ifumsa and how was the interaction with the other students you met there
Lol for me, we were a great mix going with Kwame(Kolade), Kwasi(Blessing) and Kwaku(Bassey)😂😂😂 It was awesome. Oh I didn’t tell you, Ghanaians use the days of the week they were born as their names when replying adults. Their medical students are chilled people jare and they don’t stress them unnecessarily like us here. Soft. Surprisingly their medical students don’t compulsorily have to wear ties. They are free to wear scrubs anytime they want in the hospital as well. The people of Ghana were nice for the most part although I know it’s only natural to be nice to foreigners.
Location -Royal Stoke Hospital, University Hospital North Midlands, Stoke-On-Trent, United Kingdom.
What stood out to me the most was the unity the FEAU team have, the doctors, nurses, and ANPs (Advanced Nurse Practitioners).
I did my outside posting in the UK in the Frail Elderly Assessment Unit (FEAU) , Royal Stoke Hospital, University Hospital North Midlands. I wanted to experience life in a different hospital from our own OAUTHC.
I will not lie to you. It wasn’t exactly easy mostly because you have to apply to most schools and hospitals in the UK a year before and our school calendar is not exactly reliable. I started my application immediately after my part 5 exams. To be honest, the problem I faced was just guessing the right month that we would have the medical elective, I lost an admission because I applied for the wrong month and could not defer.
My overall experience was great to be honest I met amazing skilled doctors, nurses and students. What stood out to me the most was the unity the FEAU team have, the doctors, nurses, and ANPs (Advanced Nurse Practitioners) . They worked together in seamless harmony to ensure that each patient had the best care.
Tell us about the medical students you met too. Did you notice any difference or similarities with our medical education?
I interacted with a few students (Medical and Physician Associates). I can’t tell you how their education is like because I didn’t attend classes. I attended clinics and wardrounds.
The only thing I noticed was that when they were around they were eager to gain knowledge. But they weren’t always around to be honest, and I was almost always with the doctors.
Summarily, the best advice is to apply early, both to schools and hospitals.
Location -Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), Ghana
The efforts of the HOD of Medicine in making this a reality is immensely commendable and appreciated.
The motivation came when the HOD of Medicine spoke to us about the possibilities. This rekindled my passion to see what medical practice is out there beyond the confines of Nigeria, esp other west African countries – are they better, same or worse?
Well it was easy. The clinical coordinator of the destination school was easily accessible and responses through mails were apt and without delay. We got the necessary documents, letter and recommendations for submission and the invitation letters were sent to confirm our acceptance.
Summary of it all, Ghana was an awesome experience. It indeed was one of my best moments as a medical student. We had a good share of experience about the medical practices in Ghana, as well as the cultural practices and delicacies but yeah, we’ll focus on the medical standards.
Truly, the enlightenment that comes with seeing the practice of Medicine & Surgery beyond the lens of your school’s teaching hospital is definitely the best part of the bargain.
But the big question for Medical students now is Are you a “team Nigeria”? Or will you be ticking an overseas externship off your own bucket list in the not too distant future?
Also, Anticipate IFUMSA’s event on “Elective Postings Application Series” coming up in August. We’re sure that every other question you have concerning the application process will be addressed there!
We can’t wait to hear your own experience on this space next year!
Click here for past Med school lifestyle episodes from MediVoice -your favourite Med school Chroniclers🤩💙.