Undergraduate elective placements are an important part of the medical school curriculum. They involve a period of four to twelve weeks, occurring in the UK or abroad, during which students can see how some of their learning is applied in real situations. It also provides the opportunity to develop new skills, increase awareness of social and cultural issues, and be exposed to different healthcare settings. The elective period has a strong focus on independent learning.
Considerations around electives periods include risk-assessment, learning objectives and ethical issues. Ensuring that the placement is beneficial to both the student and the host is a complex task, and while medical schools each deal with their unique elective programmes, the often international nature of electives means that coordination is important.
The Electives Committee provides a forum for medical schools to share experience and best practice in undergraduate medical electives, both in and outside of the UK. It enables medical schools to identify issues that would be most effectively addressed by a collective approach.
Areas of work include:
- Developing national recommendations for good electives
- Risk management issues, including the provision of guidance to medical schools on disaster and disease outbreaks
- Consideration of the regulator’s global health objectives
- Indemnity policy and advice
- Matters related to incoming elective visitors
- Preparatory materials covering ethical issues
The Electives Committee meets three times a year, which includes holding an annual conference. Its membership consists of all 32 Medical Schools Council members which offer undergraduate medical elective programmes. The medical schools are represented on the committee by their elective leads. Representatives from the student charity Medsin, as well as elective administrative staff, are also invited to meetings.
The current chair of the Electives Committee is Dr Bal Bajaj, Elective lead of Swansea Medical School.
Recommendations for undergraduate medical electives: a UK consensus statement
In November 2017, the Electives Committee published Recommendations for undergraduate medical electives: a UK consensus statement in the Medical Education Journal. The aim of the publication is to share experiences and good practice within UK medical schools, and inform and inspire others involved with similar programmes across the globe. The paper can be accessed here.
The Electives Committee holds a conference every year. The conference invites elective leads and coordinators from across the country, students who have completed or will complete an elective, and representatives from charitable and national bodies to discuss experiences and share best practice. The day involves guest speakers, presentations from members of the committee, a student poster forum and workshops.
Medical students who have completed an elective, or students who will go on an elective within the next year, are encouraged to attend. Students who have completed an elective will also have the opportunity to present a poster or an oral narrative at the conference. Medical students who are interested in attending this year’s conference should contact the elective lead at their medical school. If you are a medical student or graduate who will complete an elective after December 2017 and are interested in presenting at the 2018 conference, please contact your elective lead or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more detail.
The 2018 conference will be held on 23 November.
The 2017 report can be read here.