Taking an elective in a country where you don't speak the language
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Caroline replies . . .
Your elective is a once in a lifetime experience, and it is a unique part of your medical degree. The period of time that you spend on your elective—wherever it is in the world—allows you to learn more about particular diseases and patient populations, about local healthcare systems, and how the cultural background influences health seeking behaviour. And that’s not all. The elective also provides an opportunity for you to find out about yourself—whether you enjoy working with that patient group, or in that cultural setting—whether you find being far away from home, stimulating and exhilarating or somewhat overwhelming.
So where does language competency fit in? This is a question that the excellent BMA Toolkit—Ethics and medical electives in resource poor countries1 covers in some detail, so it is worthwhile having a look at this resource. The authors of the toolkit make three important