International Electives (U of Ottawa students only)

To develop a better understanding of international health:

  • To learn about health-care in lower technology societies;
  • To become involved in a cultural exchange;
  • To use the knowledge gained about other cultures in order to develop a better understanding of Canada's multicultural population;
  • To develop technical skills;
  • To encourage contemplation of a career in International Health.

If you are planning to do an International Elective (clinical or research) you must keep in mind the long time frame required to set up the elective.

NOTE: If you are a 4th year student and wish to do an international research elective, you must first complete and submit (to your Liaison Office Year 4) a research elective application form to obtain approval.


After finding an International Elective, your elective must be pre-approved by the Medical Education Office and Global Health Office. Please complete the following forms:

Application Form to request approval for an International Elective and Release of Liability Form

  • You are required to provide as much information on where you are planning to do your elective (Country, Title of Elective, Supervisor’s Name, Name & Address of Hospital, Dates of Elective, etc.).
  • You are required to investigate the intended location and provide your analysis of the risk factors that will be posed by the requested placement. Visit the link below to get information about country’s risk factors- i.e. political instability, infectious diseases, crime, etc. The website address is that of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), which provides travel updates regarding health and safety around the world. The website address is:
  • We also ask that you identify your learning objectives.
  • You must be in good standing and your name should not appear on the Academic Concern List. Please see Student Guide for definition.

The forms must be submitted to the Electives Coordinator at the Medical Education Office by email ( or in person in Room 2046 for approval at least 2 months prior to the start of the elective.

Electives must be a minimum of two weeks in duration (70hours).

NEW international elective policy: Please consult the Global Health Office for complete details.

Note: It is expected that all 4th year students will be in Canada and continental USA on CaRMS Match Day.  That being said, electives abroad are not permitted during that period.  This is to ensure the students’ ability to be easily contacted and their ability to be able to urgently return to Ottawa should the need arise.  Our concern lies in the event of an "unmatch" and timelines involved in the "unmatch" process that require less than 24 hours turnaround as we do get some "unmatch" surprises.


Once your application has been received and verified by the Medical Education Office, it will be forwarded to the Global Health Office.

The Global Health Office has been established to facilitate international/global health activities throughout the faculty. For medical students electives our goal is to try to ensure an educational experience that is enriching and safe for students as well as the host communities.

The Global Health Office will be in touch with you to confirm your international elective and to ensure that you have carried out the following:

  • Provide us with objectives reflecting your elective
  • Taking part in a Pre-departure Training (if applicable*)
  • Debriefing session (if applicable)
  • Submit a summary/reflection based on your experience
  • Register your experience on

It is your responsibility to:

  • Have a Valid Passport
  • Obtain a Visa (if applicable)
  • Visit a Pre-travel Clinic
  • Have appropriate insurance (health, evacuation and malpractice, if applicable)

Pre-departure Training

Students wishing to participate in an international elective in a country that carries a warning of "Exercise high degree of caution" on the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website, it is mandatory that you register and attend one of the 3 or 4 pre-departure training sessions that the Office of Global Health offers every academic year. It is recommended that you attend a pre-departure training course early on in your MD degree if you are planning on participating in an international elective, even if it is in a few years time, since you will have more free time now than later. Once a student has attended a training session, they receive a certificate of completion and are not required to attend a second session throughout their undergraduate education.

Global Health Office Team:

Nathalie Pellerin-Tessier, Coordinator (


Useful links:

The U of O International Office

Grants and funding opportunities:

Please note that there are bursaries available through the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) for electives done in Underserviced areas in Ontario, Canada, as well as in developing countries.

Ontario Medical Foundation Electives Bursary Programme
2009-2010 Elective Bursary Application Form


Registered students at the University of Ottawa are covered for malpractice insurance and Comprehensive General Liability with the limit per occurrence of $5 million (Canadian) inclusive for bodily injury, personal injury and property damage as described in detail in the policy.


NOTE: Once permission is granted by the Faculty, it is wise to reconfirm with your supervisor.

© University of Ottawa
For additional information, consult our list of contacts
Technical questions?
Last updated: 2014.10.01