Gastroenterology elective, Mater Dei Hospital, Malta

The application process for Mater Dei hospital was very straightforward and quick. The elective program is run through Malta university and they provide an application form that includes:

  • Personal details
  • Dates of elective
  • Preferences for specialty
  • Letter of recommendation from home home university
  • Police certificate

For this to be processed it is also required that you have indemnity insurance for the elective which I easily obtained from MIPS (but can also be from other insurance companies) - this can take about a week so requires a little extra planning.

The preferences to choose from are everything that you would expect at any tertiary hospital as well as the hyperbaric unit which is generally for divers with decompression sickness and provides a unique opportunity for students.

Unfortunately, I did not know of this when applying but other students on their elective at the time said this was a great experience.

The application will be processed in about a week all people I spoke to got their first preference. I was assigned gastroenterology.

Other requirements

Requirements of the elective are similar to placement in Canberra and include proof of vaccinations/immunity to Hepatitis B, Rubella and Varicella, as well as screening for HIV, TB and Hep C.

The elective itself also costs about 350 euros for the elective and 75 for the application fee (you only pay this fee once accepted though).

The elective

My elective was in gastroenterology for 4 weeks at Mater Dei hospital, which is the only major hospital of the island.

The first day involves a general orientation with the Malta university elective staff and collection of security passes for the hospital. Once this is completed you are free to meet the team that you have been assigned but for most people the collection of security passes took a long time and their teams were done for the day once this task was completed.

My team in gastroenterology consisted of one ‘house officer’ (equivalent to our intern or resident), one registrar, an advance trainee and a consultant.

We did ward rounds in the morning on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and clinics on Tuesday morning with endoscopy on Thursdays.

Everybody on the team was extremely nice and welcoming and this environment meant that the team worked really well together. This was particularly important on weeks that our team was on take.

Once every 4 weeks all general medical patients admitted would be seen by us, which meant that for the following weeks we would have a mixture of Gen Med and Gastroenterology patients. The week on take was very busy and the first day we had 57 patients to see on ward rounds - the registrar noted that we walked 7000 steps during this time!

Other weeks it was a lot more relaxed however and I was able to see a large variety of patients, sit in on clinics, MDT meetings and endoscopies.

It was largely an observational elective but I was given the opportunity to examine some patients as well.

Overall, I would highly recommend this elective as the people were so incredibly kind and welcoming and it provides a great reason to explore Malta as well as other European countries.

I was able to learn a lot because all members of the team were keen to teach but if you are looking for a more hands on elective, this probably would not be for you.