How to get an Elective in the UK

I undertook an elective at University College Hospital, London in General Medicine from the 3rd to 28th of June, 2019. In this article, I will be detailing how I went about the admission process.

Before starting, however, let me just state that as of the writing of this article, that is, July 2019, the Punjab Residency Program and PLAB have not yet granted any extra marks for electives. So if you wanted to do an elective just to get extra marks, then I suggest you disregard that idea. Instead, you should consult PRP’s official website for correct information.

Now, moving on: what exactly is an elective? An elective is defined as an additional course of training undertaken by a student. For a medical trainee, it is a period of around 4-8 weeks spent in a foreign hospital, within a specialty of his choice.

When starting to apply, one should visit the website of their desired institution and see if they fulfill their basic requirements. Some institutions only offer electives to students in a certain year of study, such as final year. There are also language requirements that must be met, such as IELTS. (Note: apply for UK VI, Advanced level.)

Apart from this, it is very important to apply on time. Again, check the website of your preferred medical school, and see the opening dates for each specialty. For example, for my elective of General Medicine, the period I wished to apply for was May 2019 and the opening of applications was June 2018. Thus, I applied during that time frame.

Secondly, when applying for an elective in the UK, one must consider the location. There are multiple medical schools in that region which offer electives to visiting international students. I chose London as I had family residing there. Some of the institutes I considered for my elective were,

  • University College London
  • King’s College
  • Bart’s and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry
  • Imperial College
  • St George’s, University of London

The application process for UCL was divided into 3 parts:

  • Part 1 – Online application form
  • Part 2 –  Academic Verification form
  • Part 3 – Occupational and Health Questionnaire

Part 1

The first part was an online form. It required me to give basic details such as my bio data and relevant passport information. I was also supposed to type in my preferred dates and rotation of choice.

The following supporting documents were required,

  • Dean’s recommendation letter
  • Academic Transcript
  • Two Letters of recommendation from the teaching staff
  • IELTS result

(In other words, you should have all of the above documents prepared WEEKS beforehand so that you don’t run into any difficulties at the time of admission)

Finally, the last step was an online payment of the administration fees, which was to be done after making an account on UCL’s online store.

After completing and sending the form, I got a response after 6 weeks. I was contacted by the Electives Administrator, who emailed me Part 2 and Part 3 of the application form.

Part 2

This part required information related to academics. The following documents were required and supposed to be sent in a single email to the Electives Administrator:

  • Academic Verification Form – to be completed by the medical school.
  • Police Check/Police Character Certificate – This was to be attested by the medical school and attached in PDF format.
  • Passport details – This was also supposed to be verified by the college and submitted in PDF format.

Part 3

This was the Occupational Health and Immunizations form, to be emailed to UCL Occupational Health Services. It was to be filled out by physician and the forthcoming lab reports were required:

  • Anti-Varicella Zoster IgG
  • Anti-Measles IgG
  • Rubella IgG
  • Anti Hbs
  • Serology report – CRP
  • Mantoux Test
  • Hematology report – ESR
  • Chest X-ray with report of findings.

(Note: All lab reports were required to be verified, either electronically or by a qualified physician.)

After sending the Occupational Health Questionnaire and the supporting documents, I had to wait for a reply from the Occupational Health and Wellbeing Department. Once I had received confirmation that my results were satisfactory, I went on to the online store to make the remaining payment of the tuition fees.

Shortly after this, I received my letter of confirmation of studies. Now I could move onto applying for a visa. As of 2019, a short-term study visa is required to take part in an elective in the UK.

Final steps

After receiving my visa, I emailed the Electives Administrator, who then gave me instructions for my first day and the email of my supervisor. After that, there was nothing left to do but wait for the big day!

And that concludes the entire process. I will admit – it was very lengthy and frustrating and most days, I just wanted to throw my hands up in the air and give up. But in the end, the experience was worth it.

I hope this article helped clear up any confusion and that it would be useful to anyone that wants to apply for an elective in the future.

Good luck!

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