As the bus pulled into Wexford Station one cold, drizzly Sunday afternoon, on Ireland’s historical south-eastern coast, I couldn’t help but think “I left an Australian summer for this?”
After discovering the sights of the country and the kindness of the Irish, however, I depart grateful for my memorable and educational time here.
Ireland emerged as a destination in my search for somewhere English-speaking, and unexpected.
Dublin is inaccessible for foreign student electives due to a monopoly on placements by two big universities, and so I was lucky enough to arrange mine in Wexford through a medical school lecturer.
My elective was in the ED of Wexford General Hospital, a small 210-bed public hospital servicing the county. Contrary to my expectations, accents on the east coast were quite easy to understand.
WGH hosts Irish medical students for medical and surgical placements, so there were always other students around. I generally attended the ED 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday, and there was significant flexibility for travel or other arrangements; I was the master of my own destiny.
My consultant was personable, and invested in me developing new skills and honing my acute diagnosis and management. As in Australia, the yield of the elective depended on how much I put up my hand for opportunities. The registrars and SHOs, hailing from all over the world, were happy to teach, and most of the doctors attended a weekly clinical audit presentation and training session.
The four weeks were varied, with a mix of shadowing, parallel consulting, procedural skills (a good opportunity for logbook signatures), and the chance to assist in resuscitations. I greatly improved my decision-making and investigation interpretation ability. Non-medical staff were friendly and supportive.
Beyond the confines of the hospital, I followed one of the consultants to a road safety presentation given to secondary school students, and was given the chance to write about it for the Life in the Fast Lane blog.
I was lucky enough to have an old friend living in Dublin, so we made a few weekend trips. For the first weekend, I headed up to Belfast (a fascinating city) and went sightseeing along the wild north coast (including the Giant’s Causeway and Castle Dunluce).
The second weekend took us around Waterford and Kilkenny, where we visited Kilkenny Castle.
I stayed in Wexford for the third weekend, where my costumed tour guide and I braved the elements while travelling through time at the Irish National Heritage Park.
After finishing up in the ED, I enjoyed my final few days of freedom in Dublin before flying back to beautiful Canberra.
Overall, I have only good things to say about doing an elective at WGH. Insurance requirements posed a slight difficulty (MDO insurance was not accepted), but once the Is were dotted and the Ts crossed, it was smooth sailing.
Ireland is likely not top of your “must-see countries” list – I’d encourage you to take the opportunity to do your elective in Wexford. Maybe you’ll find a leprechaun.