Rethinking your elective
Your elective can be an exciting experience. But have you ever considered it from an ethical perspective? J Jaime Miranda and Sarah Finer offer some tips on making your elective a productive and beneficial experience for all
For many medical students, the elective is a long awaited part of medical school. Scheduled in the final year in nearly all UK medical schools for an average of six to eight weeks,1 it is a chance to get away before house jobs and provides freedom from other ties.
Most literature about electives has focussed on health safety and personal problems,213 with little focus on the ethics of this experience. Only few people--and worse, few teachers and students--have thought about electives in a broader ethical context. But your responsibilities on elective are possibly more significant; you are ambassadors overseas.
It is well known, and surprisingly accepted, that most UK medical students do their electives abroad with a significant number going to developing countries in resource-poor settings.
Students who go abroad use the host countries' facilities and teaching resources. In the United Kingdom, people recognise that resources are scarce and that