Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Overseas Medical Student Electives at the University of Otago, Christchurch

Overseas medical elective student placements are not currently being offered at the University of Otago.

The University of Otago, Christchurch, is a Clinical School of the University of Otago Medical School. The Medical School was established in Dunedin, New Zealand in 1874. Schools of the Faculty of Medicine were established in Christchurch and Wellington during the 1970s to provide the range of patients and facilities required to meet modern teaching standards for an expanded intake of students.

A limited number of clinical elective positions are available in the teaching hospitals of the University of Otago, Christchurch. As there is extremely high demand for elective placements in Christchurch, we cannot guarantee placements to all applicants.

These electives are an educational exercise, and provide you with the opportunity to experience another country and culture, observe medicine practice in a different health system, and experience the discipline in all its facets. Each department/team has particular areas of clinical or academic strength

  • Only final year medical students of recognised medical schools are eligible for our electives. Elective students cannot be enrolled in our Faculty of Medicine.
  • Applications will only be accepted during the advertised period in the year prior to the elective, and will be processed in the order they are received. These placements are for a maximum of 6 weeks, one placement per student.
  • Elective placements are not available during November, December and January, or during our own student Selectives (4 weeks commencing the final week of April) .
  • Because of our increased student numbers some disciplines may not be able to offer a placement at certain times.
  • We do not offer Research Project Electives.
  • We do not provide formal endorsement that the elective experience is the equivalent in terms of rights and duties as a University of Otago, Christchurch, final year medical student.
  • Electives will be overseen by a senior clinician who will determine the substance of the elective in collaboration with the student, after their arrival. Direct supervision may be delegated to others in the Department.
  • The elective student is expected to become a member of the team in which the elective is taking place, and participate in all of that team’s activities, as would our own students if so allocated.
  • The student must undertake to observe the by-laws of the institution in which the elective is undertaken.
  • We do not offer: Nursing or allied health (eg Occupational therapy, Physiotherapy) electives/experience or co-ordinate postgraduate electives or Observerships / Internships for graduate medical doctors – these latter are organised through a Hospital (not University).
  • All overseas elective placements are administered by the Overseas Electives Co-ordinator, University of Otago, Christchuch.

Disciplines offered

Availability is subject to our own student requirements including the 4 week Selective period, and the Department’s other responsibilities.

Frequently available disciplines

  • Anaesthesia
  • ENT
  • Gastroenterology
  • Haematology
  • ICU
  • Nephrology
  • Neurology
  • Older Persons Health (Burwood Hospital)
  • Orthopaedics – Based at Christchurch Hospital but students will be required to go to Burwood Hospital for some part of their time (orthopaedic surgery and clinics), based on the timetable for the surgeon they are attached to.
  • Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
  • Radiology

We do not offer formal teaching, individual / specific tuition or clinical practice, or assess specific competencies; we are unable to sign formal contracts or agreements. A short assessment of the student on elective, if required, will be completed and signed at the end of the elective.

Occasionally available

  • Cardiology
  • Endocrinology
  • General Surgery
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Oncology – Medical and Radiation
  • Respiratory Medicine 

Not offered

  • Dermatology
  • Emergency
  • General (Community) Practice
  • General Medicine
  • O&G
  • Ophthalmology
  • Paediatrics
  • Psychiatry


Overseas students will be responsible to the Dean, University of Otago, Christchurch, through the Co-ordinator of Electives, or their Supervisor, for the period of their elective.

Students are not permitted to undertake paid employment during the period of their elective and will be expected to comply with the standing regulations of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Otago and the Canterbury District Health Board.


During the elective student’s time in Christchurch they will have limitations on prescribing drugs, signing death certificates, duties in A & E.

The supervisor of the elective should acquaint the student of any other limitations to be imposed upon him / her.


Students will be expected to adopt appropriate dress standards (good casual). Jeans, or revealing clothing are not appropriate. Scrubs will be provided if required.

An identification badge will be provided (deposit NZ$20 refunded at end of placement) and must be worn while on the hospital campus.

Insurance cover

Medico-legal insurance is compulsory.

  • Students who are not covered under agreements with their home school should purchase cover in their own country, and provide evidence of this either with their application form or acceptance of the elective offered. Failure to provide medical-legal cover will result in the cancellation of the elective.
  • Personal Health Insurance is compulsory
  • Comprehensive travel insurance is recommended

Screening / immunisation

  • A Personalised letter of support from your Medical School stating your University status, and that your School approves your application to University of Otago, Christchurch for a an elective (not a formal teaching attachment), or University of Otago, Christchurch form (attached to application form) completed and signed by your dean
  • Proof of Malpractice Insurance – Membership of MDU or MPS will suffice
  • Police Clearance Certificate issued by your country of domicile within the last 3 years.  This should be an enhanced certificate which covers working with children and adults.

Health and infection control

  • Results of HIV serology,  Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C serology (relatively recent)
  • Screening for TB (i.e. Do you have a cough? Do you have fevers? Have you lost weight recently? TB exposure testing (Quaniferon gold or Mantoux testing recommended). A positive history or TB exposure test should prompt a chest radiograph.


Visit the Immigration New Zealand website for details

Fees and finances for Overseas Elective Students

  • A non-refundable administration fee is payable within 6 weeks of an elective attachment being accepted, and receipt of the formal confirmation letter sent by the Overseas Elective Co-ordinator
  • The Administration fee for all Overseas Electives is NZ$1250, including GST (this is under review and may increase)
  • Funds are not available to support elective attachments. The cost of travel and accommodation is borne by the elective student. No salary is available. Research funding is not usually available
  • Secure payment credit card gateway


  • Arranging accommodation is your own responsibility. Self-catering will save you money!
  • University or Hospital accommodation is not available.
  • Further information on accommodation will be provided at the time of confirmation of a placement. 

How to apply

If you are, or will be (at the time of your elective) a final year medical student, contemplating a 4-to-6-week clinical elective in Christchurch please contact: Overseas Medical Student Elective Co-ordinator,

Please provide (only)

  • Full name and address
  • Your medical school
  • Length of course, your year of study, and Graduation date
  • Exact dates of your proposed elective
  • Preferred specialty (choice of 2 only)

If a placement may be available, you will be sent an application form. This does not mean a placement will be offered.

Once formally confirmed by the Overseas Electives Co-ordinator, all elective placements are considered final. Changes to dates/placements are not possible due to the high demand for placements.

Further information

Electives Coordinator
University of Otago, Christchurch
PO Box 4345, Christchurch, New Zealand