What to do if you have problems on your elective

elizabeth evans

Make sure you know who to contact in the event of any difficulties. In addition, let your dental school and family know exactly where you're going, and how you may be contacted in the event of any emergency. Obtain the addresses and telephone numbers of embassies and consulates in the countries which you visit. If there is a serious local event such as an earthquake or hurricane, let everyone know you're safe.


Keep all your important documents such as passport, tickets and money in a pouch around your neck, close to your chest and with your t-shirt tucked in as thieves can cut ties easily. Consider using a chain and padlock when travelling so that you know your rucksack will stay where you left it if you fall asleep on a train. If you do have something stolen, contact the local police so that you have a crime number to claim from your travel insurance on your return.

Lost tickets and passports

Most airlines now issue e-tickets but if you do have paper tickets that are lost or stolen, contact the travel company or airline directly who can re-issue another ticket. This sometimes involves travelling to a central office with proof of purchase and identity. Many travellers now email a copy of their itinerary and important documents to themselves before they leave so that they can have access to them from any internet café in the world. Alternatively, keep a photocopy set of all important documents separately.

If you're unfortunate enough to lose your passport, contact your embassy as soon as possible.

How to say no!

Even the best-laid plans can go wrong and electives can disappoint. There have been reports of students arriving on their elective to find that there was a lack of supervision.

We recommend that students are supervised by qualified practitioners at all times and be aware of the standards set by the General Dental Council (GDC) which will apply to them as future dentists. In their guidance, Standards for the Dental Team (2013), the GDC states: 'You should only deliver treatment and care if you're confident that you have had the necessary training and are competent to do so. If you're not confident to provide treatment, you must refer the patient to an appropriately trained colleague.'

You may want to refer to these guidelines during your training and especially during your elective when you may take on additional duties. Visit the GDC website.

If you have any concerns, contact your school elective tutor. A rescue position may be possible, such as arranging a transfer to another hospital/practice locally or even returning home so that another elective can be arranged in the UK.

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This page was correct at publication on . Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.


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