Anne Riordan

University of Dublin

Tanzania Medical Elective

Working overseas has been a lifelong dream. I came across the Elective International website and got interested in their electives. Once I got in touch with the EI staff and talked to them about their placements I knew I had to go. I had some security concerns which the EI staff probably get a lot of but they addressed them and at the end, I was really impressed.


First thing I did after arriving in Arusha was first to get settled then take a quick tour around town to get a sense of my new surroundings. Valerie, who heads up the EI program in Arusha, did a great job of showing me around.  The EI staff are a friendly and supportive bunch who do a first-rate job of making sure people like myself who don’t travel a lot feel right at home. The house in Arusha is spacious and relaxing. You share a suite with one other person but there are individual rooms so you definitely have your privacy.


The hospital in Arusha was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The staff really embraced us and made us part of the family. The language barrier wasn’t as much of a problem as I thought since Tanzanians speak English, though Kiswahili is used a lot more.  I was able to learn a bit and by the end of my placement, I could put a few sentences together. I don’t know that it helped directly, but I think patients relaxed a little bit when I tried to speak to them in my limited Kiswahili. Which is something ward rounds were sometimes really intense experiences. I did procedures I wouldn’t otherwise do like resection and anastomosis. It gave me a vivid picture of the conditions my colleagues in the developing world have to work in. I also acquired experiences I know have made me a better clinician.


I would definitely recommend Elective International to anyone who wants to improve themselves and have experiences they’ll treasure for the rest of their lives.