Working in a Hospital in Solomon Islands
Special information for students
Before you apply:
Different terms are used in different countries for what is called an elective on this web site. It comprises practical work in a hospital under varying degrees of supervision, depending on the level of your training and experience. Some applicable terms are: clinical clerkship, student on attachment, student assistant, Famulatur, Praktisches Jahr (PJ, PJ-Tertial), Wahlstudienjahr (WSJ). You are welcome to supply us with more terms.
Check with your tutor or your university for the necessary prerequisites for a medical elective abroad. (Some links for Swiss students can be found here.) It is your responsibility to make sure the place you select for your elective is recognized by your university. The NRH in Honiara is teaching hospital for the Fiji School of Medicine in Suva, Fiji and the University of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby. Unless you bring along a special form, the confirmation of your elective will be written on hospital letterhead stationery and carry a hospital stamp.
Important note for German students: Many (most?) German universities seem to refuse to accept an elective at NRH (or another hospital in Solomon Islands) as part of the PJ because the confirmation of your elective will neither be written on university letterhead stationery nor will it carry the seal or stamp of a university. Please check with your university before you apply for an elective. On the other hand, a student from the University of Mainz, supported by his prof, did manage to get his elective accepted in the year 2002. So, who knows, with enough determination, support, and some luck you may be able to convince your authorities that doing an elective at NRH is a good thing, even though Solomon Islands does not follow German rules.
Selecting a place
If you stay longer than 6 weeks it might be possible to split your stay into say three weeks at NRH and three weeks in a provincial hospital. This should be arranged well in advance.
Here is what NRH's student information sheet says:
We would like you to spend the first 3-4 weeks at Central Hospital, (if you are only here for 6 or 7 weeks then 3 weeks will be acceptable. If you are only here for 4 weeks, then you will have to spend all your time either in Central Hospital or in the Provinces, attached to one of the Clinical Teams and Directors in the Provinces, and supervised by the Head of the Team. The specialties available are:
Paediatrics, General Medicine, General Surgery, Anaesthetics, Obstetrics and Ophthalmology.
During this initial period you will then be able to arrange what you would like to do for the remainder of your elective. There are only two Provincial Hospitals to which you may go and they are:
Whilst at the National Referral Hospital or at the Provincial Hospitals you are directly under the supervision of the Chief Executive Officer in the case of the National Referral Hospital or the Provincial Director of Provincial Health Services in the case of Gizo and Kilu'ufi.
Minimum duration of stay:
Reasons for a longer stay:
Please do not apply for a three-month elective and then tell them you need at least four weeks off to travel around. Be honest to the hospital and yourself. Depending on availability of time (and money) you will probably want to have at least an additional 7-10 days to explore the Solomons, so plan accordingly.
Why can't I just take a day off here and there?
Hmm, you came to the hospital for a purpose, didn't you? Ah, right, you wanted to learn something! The superiors (usually senior registrars) are willing to teach students and give them responsibility, in return, they expect them to take the initiative, show interest, and be around and available to help them, if there is a need. This includes the time the registrars are "on call" (which may be on a weekend). If they find you lacking in this respect, they will soon more or less ignore you.
Usually people just select a suitable place after their arrival. You may get some ideas from the answers to our questionnaire. If you have horror visions of ending up without a place to sleep in Honiara, you could just book a few nights (or even just one night) at a motel or hotel in advance and once you are there, look for something that suits you and your purse. See Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau or a travel guide for ideas and contact information.
Choosing a time:
Apply early, the general rule is: first come, first served.
As mentioned before, Gizo Hospital is very famous for elective attachments, so you should book early (i.e. one or two years in advance) if you want to go there.
The rainy season starts about November-December.
December/January can be a problem, especially at NRH: after the beginning of the month many staff are taking their annual leave (6 weeks or sometimes more). Therefore little elective surgery is to be expected. However, the Accidents and Emergency Department is busy and understaffed at the same time.
Where and how to apply:
If you have decided you want to do part of your medical elective at the National Referral Hospital in Honiara send your application with full details (time, length of elective and field of interest) and a short CV to the Medical Superintendent at NRH.
For contact details see Contacting the hospital.
Clearly indicate whether you are willing to organize (and pay for) your own accommodation if there is no room available in the Jubilee House. Otherwise you may get turned down simply because the records do not show an available room in the Jubilee House at the desired time of your stay.
Contact us for details, if you want to work in a provincial hospital. The National Referral Hospital will not arrange placements at provincial hospitals for you (even if you want to spend part of your elective at NRH), you have to apply there yourself.
Documents to bring along:
Travel documents required:
Links to more Travel Information
Do you have specific questions? Doubts? Contact us.