By Ruth Chapman, Communications Manager, Work the World.
Work the World are the UK’s leading provider of tailored dentistry placements in Africa, Asia and South America. Here are our top ten tips on planning your dental elective overseas:
Get your skates on!
As soon as you have the dates, start thinking about what you want to do. Student placements in some hospitals can be hugely oversubscribed.
Do some research:
Visa requirements, medication, hospital contacts and potential supervisors… there is lots to arrange. Work the World can do this on your behalf.
Be realistic about your aims and expectations
Many students are driven by the idea they can make a “real difference” to the hospital or clinic they are going to be working in. This is not a realistic or sustainable approach to short-term placements. Rob Giddings, Head of Operations at Work the World, recommends:“overseas placements should be treated in exactly the same way as you would treat an elective at home. You will learn, practice and develop skills under the supervision of a qualified professional, discover more about the challenges of global health and treat advanced pathologies and communicable diseases that are rarely seen at home”.
Think about personal and patient safety
Hospitals in developing countries are short staffed and often have a high patient load, so students get involved with patient care very quickly. If supervisors do not adequately understand the level of skill or experience, or procedures are at odds with UK teaching, numerous clinical or ethical dilemmas can arise.
Get written confirmation
As electives overseas become more common, some hospitals have placed the revenue from student fees above both patient care and elective experience. Unscrupulous hospitals may change your department, place you with twenty other students or even cancel your placement all together. You need to clarify who your supervisor will be, where the monies you are paying will go, whether your role will involve patient interaction and how many other dentistry students will be working with you.
Fundraising / applying for bursaries / sponsorship
There are plenty of ways to cover the cost of an elective if you don’t have the savings yourself. Work the World sends their students a regularly updated list of bursaries, as well as fundraising tips.
Arrange insurance and indemnity protection
Many students will have free indemnity cover through their university course or as members of a professional body.
Arrange flights and accommodation
Only book flights and accommodation AFTER your placement is agreed. Work the World include accommodation, meals and airport pick up.
Arrange visas and book inoculations
Depending on where you are going the process can take 1 – 3 months.
And if things go wrong?
Work the World have someone on the ground ready to help 24/7. If you have chosen to travel independently you should research as many measures as possible to protect yourself in the event of a problem.
Contact Work the World on 01273 573 863 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Read firsthand experiences of Work the World elective placements at http://www.worktheworld.co.uk/why-us/case-studies