Previous Electives

Examples of previous electives that have been undertaken in Gondar.

Aqeelah Yusuf and Yvelne Ansladi, 5th year Medical Students, University of Leicester – Elective undertook in June 2012

Our elective experience was truly humbling and inspiring and has given us a different perspective on practising Medicine. We spent 6 weeks in Gondar Hospital, in the city of Gondar, North Ethiopia where there was a wide variety of clinical specialties to experience.

Initially we had hoped to divide our time between all the different hospital departments, but we soon discovered that the clinical experience in Ethiopia is nothing like what we are accustomed to in the UK. We therefore chose to concentrate our time in the Internal medicine and Paediatric departments of the hospital. We were exposed to a multitude of new learning opportunities: ward rounds, HIV clinics, the multi-drug resistant towards, the visceral leishmaniasis centre, dermatology clinics, malnutrition wards and paediatric cardiology clinics were among the ones we enjoyed the most. These experiences gave us a good overall understanding and insight into the variety of conditions present within Gondar, and the chance to experience what practising medicine is like in Ethiopia. We were greatly impressed by the doctors’ ability to manage complex medical problems despite limited resources, which we often take for granted.

Initially the hospital was a very overwhelming place as it was very different from the hospitals we were used to in the UK: it is a busy place both within the departments but also in the hospital grounds as patients’ relatives tend to stay at the hospital since many people travel long distances to reach the hospital.  However, the staff was very accommodating and we instantly felt a part of the team. We soon made friends among the staff members and had the opportunity to carry out an audit on the labeling of chest radiographs within the hospital. We audited several wards under the supervision of the very helpful audit clerk, Ato Addisu and finally presented our audit to the heads of several departments including radiology and the Medical Director!

Other than spending our time in hospital, we learnt a great deal about Ethiopian culture: coffee ceremonies, bayenatu (a selection of vegetarian dishes), the importance of religion and the beauty of the Orthodox religious ceremonies, Tedy Afro (the singer who’s songs are to be heard everywhere, everyday), and Dashen beer (brewed in Gondar) are just a few examples. We managed to visit some beautiful places including the Simien mountains and Lalibela.

We also attempted to learn some Amharic, which was difficult initially but we eventually picked up enough to understand some basic conversations. All the people we met were very eager to teach us a few words of Amharic and this allowed us to make lots of friends within Gondar hospital but also at the hotel and in the town itself. Ethiopian people are very warm and friendly and we instantly found people who were happy to share their language and culture with us and welcome us into their homes or invite us to a coffee ceremony.

Ethiopia is a very beautiful country, rich in culture and packed with so many different learning experiences, both medical and cultural. It is a place we definitely wish to visit again and an experience we would recommend to everyone!!

Samuel Krauze, University of Leicester 5th Year Medical Student – Elective undertook in April 2011

In spring 2011, my fellow medical student Jessica Overbury and myself spent six weeks completing our elective at the Gondar University Hospital, Northern Ethiopia. What we learnt in that time cannot be easily summed up in such a short piece of writing. However, what we experienced will never be forgotten. It allowed us not only to reflect on our student years in Leicester, but also to consider how our time in Gondar might affect our practice in future years as doctors.

On arrival, we were shown around the hospital by the programme coordinator there, Solomon, who was extremely helpful throughout our placement. I was slightly ashamed to see how much bigger, and more advanced the hospital was than I had initially envisaged.

Whilst we were there, we spent most time with the exceptionally kind doctors and nurses in the internal medicine and paediatrics wards, but were also lucky enough to be able to go out with the ‘community based rehabilitation’ (CBR) team, as well as getting to know the extremely friendly and kind people of Gondar themselves, who were more than willing to discuss the latest goings on in the English Premier League!

Going out of Gondar to other, less developed towns with the CBR team was one of the best experiences we had, their clients were kind enough to let us into their homes to see the kind of work they were doing with children in their community. Before I got there, I had no idea this kind of work went on from the hospital, but I was fortunate enough to see these highly skilled people at work, ranging from teaching a deaf child and their parent Ethiopian sign language, to teaching an autistic child practical and communication skills, to helping a mother with some of the behavioural problems she was having with her Downs’ Syndrome child.

Of the several things I noted that were different to the UK, what was the most striking is how the staff had to cope without the resources we are used to having back at home. For example, we saw several patients with leukaemia, who the doctors were doing their best for. But without the hospital or the patient having the ability to pay for the treatment required, supportive therapy was the only thing that could be done. This experience fulfilled one of my elective aims, to learn from an environment where treatments, or resources weren’t always available.

Overall, I learnt much in Gondar, about common diseases there and their management, but also to appreciate the healthcare system we do in the UK, how the NHS should not be taken for granted, and why we should do all we can to protect it.

Melinda Hau (4th Year) & Conrad Lee (5th Year) – Elective undertook in July 2009

Will Roberts (5th Year) – Elective undertook during 2001