Elective Ghana review: What is Medical Elective?
Have you ever been to a hospital and came around a group of people in following the doctor around and taking notes? Well, those are students undertaking
Popularly known as clinical in Ghana, medical elective is the practical aspect of a medical course. The first time I came across Elective Ghana, it seemed a bit puzzling but not totally new to me. Once you’ve attended a second cycle educational institution in Ghana, you’ve probably come into contact with some sort of elective program.
But when medical elective is spoken of, it refers to the practical aspect of the medical course where students apply their theoretical knowledge in real-world settings. Not only is it important but also a task to fulfill their obligations as part of attaining a medical degree.
Clinical can be offered in any country of the student’s choice or per the school’s regulations concerning medical elective placements, but the most popular choice is to have it abroad. Having clinical abroad is very good for students as professionals–to-be and cultural facilitators as well. Most students would wish to have such experiences but this is quite expensive as students usually bare all cost involved. That is why it is common to have foreign medical students undertake their placement in ‘poor’ countries like Ghana but the same cannot be said vice-versa.
For Ghana, our struggling healthcare views medical electives as a blessing to our understaffed health centers. Health centers in improvised places are usually flooded with foreign medical students from economically advantaged countries. They are assigned duties reflective of their areas of study. Students are exposed to knowledge of tropical illness, cultural competence and tolerance. They also gain experience and practical hands-on skill because responsibilities are given to them.
Since 2007, Elective Ghana has been effectively providing medical elective placements to students abroad in partnership with hospitals across the globe. They sort to fill a gap in the system, where students struggled to find the right and affordable placement to undertake their medical electives. Including finding placements for premeds, Externship, educational and volunteering trips to Ghana.
Elective Ghana goes beyond just matching students with medical institutions to correspond with their educational fields. They also take care to match students to the right communities by considering their interest. Organizing fun trips around tourist and cultural sites in the country. Providing an edutainment atmosphere for the duration of their stay in Ghana.
There are also disadvantages to having elective programs abroad, especially to host countries considered ‘poor’. Incidences of students undertaking duties which they are not qualified for, and hence unintentionally causing harm to patients are not uncommon.
These circumstances although rare usually happen when the hospitals are understaffed or are overconfident in the competencies of the students. Other students, although this rarely happens, also tend to intentionally take advantage of situations to exploited patients. Nevertheless, Elective Ghana has measures in place to ensure that such occurrences are minimal. Students placed in hospitals are monitored and supervised in executing their duties in the various wards by resident doctors.
Sometimes, a student’s ignorance of the culture of the people could also have serious consequences than assumed. Studies have shown that people in such areas are high emotional especially towards strangers. This could have them keep information about themselves which could be detrimental to their health. Or worse may lose complete faith in the health care system.
Elective Ghana does not only arrange for placements in the hospitals but also ensure smooth transitions into the host communities. Students are taken through orientation to avoid embarrassing situations with the culture of the peoples. Hospitals are also advised to keep tabs on students and also track their progress as well as liaising with the schools to hold offenders accountable.
Elective Ghana has contributed immensely in Ghana’s health sector. Follow them on Facebook @Elective Ghana or visit their website (electiveghana.org) for more information.
Eric Nana Sefa Boateng (founder and director)