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Going on a health elective: Aadil

In this step, Aadil talks about his own experiences from his health elective and gives advice to others on how to prepare for theirs.
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I’m Aadil Shaikh. I’m a fourth year medical student at the University of Birmingham, and I was planning to go on my electives to Israel. So I had to write an elective protocol outlining the details of what I’d be doing. And since my essay was based on health systems in Palestine, I went back to that, and looked to see how it actually worked. I knew some of the references in my protocol. I also got in touch with the Jewish Medical Association. And much to my surprise, I actually found that they actually organised electives to the Palestinian hospitals as well. And apparently they had a lot of collaboration and cooperation amongst each other.
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And they were very helpful in guiding me as to who to get in touch with academics in the hospitals in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. I also had to write a risk assessment, which is mandatory for all people getting an elective from Birmingham. And so I had to outline the risks of going to a potentially volatile country. And so that required actually looking up the history of Israel and Palestine just to see what sort of risks are genuinely there in regards to stabbings and violence and even needlestick injuries– even in the clinical setting. So you have to look at all the risks from all sides.
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So I suppose another piece of advice I would perhaps suggest is to have a plan B of sorts. And I think that’s perhaps something which the medical school should also look into, because these things do happen regardless of where you go. But with regards to my alternative plans– I am based at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. I think it’s one of the biggest and best in Europe. And I’ll be doing some research on esophageal perforation. So very clinical and very different to a conflict setting. But I suppose at least I’m doing– finishing off a project, and perhaps it’ll lead to better outcomes in health care.
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I say to make the most of the elective in the sense that it’s an opportunity you don’t get very often. And by all means have the holiday aspect to it as well, but make the most of actually experiencing a different health care system as well. And try and make sure that it also has an ethical basis to it, so you’re just not an extra pair of hands, or that you’re paying an obscene amount of money for something which isn’t quite right. And just being aware of representing your medical school and even your country if you’re nationalistic in that sense.

Aadil studied for an iBSc in Global Health at King’s College London (having previously studied at the University of Birmingham).

In this video, he shares his experience of planning and preparing for his elective and suggests ways in which you might prepare for your own elective.

Many thanks to Aadil for agreeing to share his experiences.

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Preparing for an International Health Elective: Exploring Global Health, Ethics and Safety

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