Electives are an important part of our learning. They let us meet new people, be exposed to different environments and do a lot which we normally wouldn't. Electives take place before your last year of the degree and are usually self-organised.

Below is information to help you in that process. Note, some of the information on LMS is duplicated here.

Last edited: 2022-07-16

What is an Elective?

Clinical electives are an opportunity for you to explore new horizons or seek greater depth of knowledge in an area of medical practice, in a medical-related workplace under the supervision of a clinician.

It offers you a chance to undertake supervised experience in clinical or community work of your choosing anywhere in the world (within DFAT’s travel advisory limits). It may be an opportunity to prepare for a particular career direction or to explore different experiences or to enhance skills in particular areas.

The placement is intended to provide practical experiences, awareness of professional practice, ability to function effectively as an individual and as a member of a team, and an understanding of professional responsibilities 

The placement must be in a clinical environment and supervised by a clinician.

Choosing & Organising an Elective

An elective can take place in WA, in Australia, or overseas. Where you go is up to you. Many students choose to arrange their own, whilst others use corporate services to do so. The choice of hospital usually boils down to: Medical interest or Travel interest, or hopefully both.

If you've opted to self-organise, you will need to make contact with the hospital and arrange your elective. This usually takes place 6-12 months in advance depending on the popularity of the site you wish to visit. You will need to liaise with the faculty to ensure that the place you have chosen is appropriate.


WAMSS Elective Database - click to learn more

WAMSS Elective Database

UWA MD Electives Info Session 2022 - PDF

External Resources


The Faculty and LMS

All MD students have access to 'MD Community' on LMS and the elective information is under 'MD Clinical Elective'. It includes how to apply for an elective, the Faculty approval process, forms, assessment requirements and information on elective scholarships, Os-help and other financial support.

When is the elective period?

The clinical elective placement is usually undertaken at the end of 3rd year and completed before 4th year commences.

It counts as part of the year 4 unit sequence.

How long is the elective?

The total placement is for a minimum of 4 weeks or 20 working days. The minimum duration you can spend in a given department is 2 weeks (10 days). You may split your elective, e.g. 10 days in one placement and 10 in another.

How much does all this cost?

All fees and charges associated with the elective, including air fares, are your responsibility.

John Flynn Scholarship placements cannot be used as part of the elective requirement.

There are some grants which can support part of the cost. These are mostly awarded on academic ability. There are also loans available through OS-HELP. They will be coordinated through the UWA Scholarships Office.

Am I insured to go travelling before or after my elective?

As the clinical elective is a course requirement, you are covered for Public Liability Insurance, Professional Indemnity and Personal Accident and Travel Insurance, provided you have obtained school and University approval.

No vacation time is covered by the UWA policy. You need to arrange extra travel insurance to cover times outside of elective dates. If you are planning any additional travel time outside of this period a separate stand-alone leisure travel insurance policy needs to be purchased for the relevant number of additional days. Also keep in mind that most travel insurance policies do not provide cover in the event of failing an exam. So check!

Each year, at the WAMSS Electives and Exchange night, the Faculty Infection Control Officer at UWA Medical Centre, will present on health and safety and vaccination requirements. You can find out more information on LMS: MD Community/MD Clinical Elective and by contacting the Faculty.

Do I need approval from the medical school or University for the elective?

Yes! All placements must be approved by the School and the University to be credited to your course, and for you to be covered by UWA placement and travel Insurance. You will also need to log your travel on Concur, the University travel booking system, and have it approved by them.

Hosting Exchanges

As mentioned, WAMSS, AMSA, and IFMSA organise exchanges for students. Outgoing students are not required to host an incoming student. Instead, WAMSS and AMSA seek local volunteers to house incoming students. Host persons/families are paid $500 in compensation. If you're interested in hosting a medical student, please contact the WAMSS Electives and Exchange Officer at [email protected]