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Elective Abroad: Surgery Elective Program

An Experience of a Lifetime

Elective Abroad Surgery Elective Details

Elective Abroad is a leading organizer of medical elective placements in Africa. We have been working for over 10 years with teaching hospitals, rural hospitals and community health centers in Africa to provide current and aspiring medical and healthcare students a rare opportunity for a hands-on learning experience, cultural exchange, and medical volunteering in Africa.

Given the integrated management in most hospitals in developing countries and the limited resources and health care staffing constraints, students will have a vast exposure to various surgical disciplines as they rotate through the hospital during their placement.

General Surgery: This offers students a supporting role in patient care including pre-operative evaluation, operative intervention and post-operative care and management. While under supervision, the student will be involved in pre-operative decision making such as patient assessment and counseling, obtaining informed consent, pre-operative medication e.g. thrombophylaxis, prophylactic antibiotics, blood transfusions, anxiolytics and glyceamic control.

Preoperative imaging and radiographic and sonographic interpretation is also an essential part of our program. The student will also assist intra-operatively in major theatre surgical conditions that require General anaesthesia like resection and anastomosis, explorative laparatomies, partial bilroths gastrectomys and total gastrectomys, appendicectomy, total and subtotal hemicolectomy, fashioning colostomys, peritoneal toilet. Thyroidectomy, pancreatectomy, splenectomys and cholangietectomy, hernia repairs are also common. Skin grafts and flaps, surgical toilet The student will also get minor theatre time and assist in procedures under local anaesthesia like simple wound management and debridement, primary and secondary skin closures, incision and drainage, ganglion removals, excisional and incisional biopsies, fine needle aspirations, chest tube placement and removal. They will also get to watch central nervous line placement and cantor tube placement, suprapubic and urethral catheterization and assist in nasogastric intubation. Post operative participatory care will include fluid and electrolyte management in burns and stoma care. Surgical patient analgesia and pain management. Stoma care. Heamatology and pathology lab interpretations, Imaging and nutrition. Reviewing of abdominal drains and management of donor/recipient sites in grafts. In addition to the above, our general surgery experience will expose students to other procedures or enhance skills such as history taking and physical examination. Participation in conferences, case based learning and rounds will be expected.

Orthopedic Surgery: Opportunity to participate in diagnosis and active treatment of patients, including case application, manipulation of simple fractures, closed and open reduction, management of orthopeadic implants like external and internal fixation. Knail insertion, k-wire insertion and plate&screws are all common occurences. The student will also get to participate in POP application, attend surgery and post-op management.

Burn Surgery: Participate in burn related critical care, fluid and electrolyte resuscitation, review of heamatologic indices. Management of surgical wounds and surgical procedures related to burn care like skin harvesting and grafting, escharotomys, counseling, reconstructive surgery. Exposure will include care of both major and minor burns patients. Critically injured techniques will be invasive critical care, Swan-Ganz catheter insertion and monitoring, amongst others.

Trauma & Emergency Surgery: Opportunity to get involved with dealing with acute trauma patients. Students learn how to effectively manage patients during the resuscitative and evaluation phases of care. Application of the ATLS protocols, management of multiple trauma, and the management of shock. They will handle emergency intervention such as chest intubations, tracheostomy, fluid management of shock. Participants will follow patients through treatment and their rehabilitation from acute trauma and help monitor some patients. They will also take responsibility with the attending to develop appropriate treatment and rehabilitation plans for these patients. The students will work under the direct supervision of the attending and will be expected to attend any conferences and case based learning held.

Surgical Critical Care: Offers student opportunity to get involved in managing critically ill surgical patients in both the intensive care units and high dependency unit. This will be done both preoperatively and postoperatively. Students learn how to use invasive monitoring and support systems. They also get opportunity to perform procedures such as insertion of arterial lines, central lines, and intubations, perform history taking, physical examination, daily notes and orders, evaluation and treatment planning. Students will work under surgery department resident and attending and are expected to attend any bedside teachings and conferences.

Surgical oncology: Students get surgical experience focusing on the care of patients with malignant and benign disorders, both inpatient and in the surgical outpatient clinic. Their experience will span preoperative, operative and postoperative management and continued care.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery: Students participate in the surgical management of oral and head and neck pathology e.g cystic hygromas, thyroid carcinomas, cleft palate&lips and the correction of congenital and traumatic deformities like Le fort fractures and orbital blow-out fractures. Acute trauma care is a major component. The student will have some responsibility for inpatient care. Students will have the opportunity to perform or assist in minor procedures in the clinic, as well as the emergency room, and operating room, under supervision.

Rural Surgery: Provide students with diverse and challenging aspects of the practice of rural surgery by participating in clinics as well as outpatient and inpatient surgical cases. Students will participate in evaluating patients presenting with emergency conditions and to perform or assist with invasive monitoring and treatment procedures.

Pediatric Surgery: The student will be an integral part of the surgical team and participate in evaluating and managing pre- and post-operative pediatric surgical conditions including neonatal intussuception, tracheo-esophageal fistulas, posterior urethral valves, spina bifida, umbilical hernias, trauma and will assist in operative care. Related opportunities to learn the essentials of pediatric enteral and parenteral nutritional support, invasive and non-invasive monitoring procedures and techniques, respiratory support techniques, and a variety of pediatric vascular access procedures are available depending on placement facility.

The surgery elective is targeted at medical students, residency doctors and students pursuing surgery as a specialty, and is a fulfilling way to pursuing an away elective or just to volunteer their skills to underserved communities while experiencing healthcare in a different setting.

Elective Abroad Program Highlights:

  • A supervised, structured and safe elective program abroad.
  • Program is designed in an established network of teaching hospitals and monitored by consultant doctors and registered nurses .
  • We evaluate our participants during and at the end of the program (please see our information booklet for our evaluation form) to ensure that program objectives are met.
  • Opportunity for hands-on experience is unmatched; depending on level of clinical exposure, our participants get extensive hands-on experience in a supervised setting. Participants also get a chance to see both different types of diseases and cases at advanced stages, that they rarely see in the developed world.
  • We have strong relationships with hospitals in which we place our participants and the doctors that they work with, ensuring a very productive experience.
  • Participants acquire an invaluable opportunity to work in a low resource setting which supports character development and benefits the local community


Elective Abroads medical students program objectives are designed to provide participants with opportunities to enhance the various components of their medical education in a clinical setting and with extensive handson experience that they would not get in their own countries. Our program objectives adopts the Accredited Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) competencies framework.

Patient Care

Our program places a strong emphasis on developing the competence of our graduates in patient care. This involves fostering the ability to provide compassionate, effective, and evidence-based care to patients across a diverse range of medical conditions.

Through hands-on clinical experiences and simulation training, our residents learn to assess, diagnose, and manage patient needs with a focus on individualized and patient-centered approaches. The goal is to instill a commitment to the highest standards of clinical care, emphasizing patient safety, empathy, and collaboration within interdisciplinary healthcare teams.

Medical Knowledge

The acquisition and application of medical knowledge are fundamental components of our program. We strive to equip our residents with a deep understanding of basic and clinical sciences, ensuring a solid foundation for clinical decision-making and problem-solving..

Our curriculum integrates the latest advances in medical research, technology, and evidence-based medicine to keep our graduates at the forefront of medical knowledge. Through a combination of didactic sessions, case-based learning, and research opportunities, residents are challenged to continuously expand their medical knowledge throughout their training.

Practice-Based Learning

Practice-based learning is a cornerstone of our educational philosophy. Residents are encouraged to actively engage in self-directed learning, critically appraise their own clinical performance, and identify areas for improvement. Regular feedback from faculty, peer collaboration, and reflective practice are integral components of this competency.

We foster an environment where residents embrace a commitment to lifelong learning, staying abreast of emerging medical literature and evolving healthcare practices to continually enhance the quality of their patient care.

Interpersonal and Communication Skills

Effective communication is paramount in healthcare, and our program emphasizes the development of strong interpersonal and communication skills. Residents learn to communicate complex medical information clearly and empathetically to patients, families, and other healthcare professionals.

Through role-playing, mentorship, and direct patient interaction, residents refine their abilities to establish rapport, navigate challenging conversations, and work collaboratively within interdisciplinary teams, ensuring optimal patient care outcomes.


Professionalism is a core value instilled in our residents throughout their training. Our program emphasizes the importance of ethical behavior, integrity, and accountability in all aspects of medical practice. Residents are expected to demonstrate a commitment to the highest standards of professional conduct, including respect for patient autonomy, cultural sensitivity, and a dedication to upholding the principles of medical ethics.

By cultivating a culture of professionalism, we aim to graduate physicians who are not only clinically competent but also exemplify the highest ethical standards.

Systems-Based Practice

Understanding and navigating the complexities of healthcare systems are crucial aspects of modern medical practice. Our program equips residents with the knowledge and skills to engage in systems-based practice, addressing the broader context in which patient care is delivered. This includes an awareness of healthcare policies, resource utilization, and advocacy for patient welfare.

Through exposure to healthcare management principles and quality improvement initiatives, residents are prepared to contribute to the enhancement of healthcare delivery systems and promote positive changes for the benefit of their patients and communities.

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