Information for medical students


Whilst thinking about and planning your final year elective period, it is worth considering all of the following as it may affect the ease of planning the trip and overall cost. Services available under the NHS are clearly defined and there will be charges payable for anything else.

Occupational immunisations

Some institutions abroad may require you to have additional immunisations or possibly a blood test to prove that you have had certain immunisations e.g. MMR. There will be a charge for this blood test. In some institutions in North America they may require an immunisation which is not available in the UK and then you may need to pay for a medical certificate declaring this. You should be aware that these requirements may not be the same as those in the UK and decisions regarding immunisations will be made on clinical grounds only.

Travel immunisations

Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Polio, and Cholera (for a certain subset of travellers) vaccinations are available free on the NHS. Any other travel vaccines that may be required you will have to pay for. Please check the main travel section of this web site for further information.

MRSA Swabs

Several countries, e.g. Australia or New Zealand, require a certificate stating that you have had recent MRSA swabs that are negative. There is a charge for these and requirements may vary even within the same country. You should check documentation carefully and bring it with you to any appointment at Student Health with one of the Health Care Assistants.


Malaria is a potentially lethal disease which is prevalent throughout Africa, Asia and S. America. You may require anti-malarial medication for the whole time you are abroad. Some are only available on a private prescription, for which there is a charge for the prescription and then you will also have to pay for the anti-malarial tablets. See FAQs in travel.


Many institutions will require a statement of health and in some instances will even demand you have a chest x-ray. There will be a fee for both of these.

HIV Prophylaxis

If you are travelling and working in a country where there is a high incidence of HIV e.g. Africa, then you may require HIV prophylaxis for which there is a charge. This is obtained from Occupational Health.

Other Possible Costs

These may arise if you decide to travel independently before or after your elective period e.g. a private prescription for antibiotics if you become unwell, or medication for altitude sickness if you are climbing. These are all available and cheaper to buy at one of the private travel clinics e.g. NOMAD. See FAQs in travel.

Please consider all the above factors before you make your choice and finalise your plans. The staff at the Students’ Health Service have many years experience of helping elective students and would be happy to answer any queries you may have Please book into a travel clinic appointment at SHS as soon as you start planning your medical elective. SHS has a huge demand for travel clinic appointments for medical electives in February/March each year and availability of appointments cannot always fulfil demand during this time.



What if I am away from Bristol and need a GP?

The Students’ Health Service offers appointments on Monday and Thursday evenings until 7.30pm and from 9-12 on Saturdays.

If you are unable to make an appointment at the Students’ Health Service you can be seen as a temporary resident at one of the GP surgeries near your Academy (see list at the end of this section). You do not have to pre-register, just fill out a temporary resident form at the surgery and this will cover you for 3 months.

Telephone consultations are available at the Students’ Health Service. Please telephone 0117 3302720 to arrange a time for a doctor or nurse to phone you back.

If you need medical help when the surgery is closed, please call 111. NHS 111 is a telephone advice line and signposting service for patients with urgent health problems, but which do not need a call to 999.

What do I do if I need a repeat prescription?

If you require regular medication it is a good idea to have a medication review before you go away on placement.

You can request a repeat prescription:

The prescription can then be either:

What do I do if I need emergency contraception?

What if I need counselling?

In addition to the University of Bristol Students’ Health Service and Counselling service, medical students can also access BMA counselling provided by an EAP and the Doctors for Doctors service that enables you to talk in confidence to another medical professional.

List of local GP surgeries where medical students can be seen as ‘temporary residents’ whist on placement:

Stress and Mental health Problems

It is important to look after yourself whilst you are completing your medical studies as the course itself can be very stressful at times. People react differently to some of the situations they find themselves in during the 5 years of training, but witnessing a death or being involved in breaking bad news about a terminal illness or life threatening condition can be very distressing and unsettling for some students. It is also a very common time for mental health problems to develop during late teens and early twenties and this may happen to you. It is really important that you seek support and help if you do find yourself in this situation and that you access us here at the Students' Health Service. We are able to help support and guide you to the different services that are available to help in theses situations and we treat everything you tell us with the utmost confidence. Mental health problems are common and easily treated when dealt with appropriately. It is unlikely to affect your ability to become a doctor and we do not inform the medical school of your health problems unless you specifically request that we do (for example if you want a letter regarding extenuating circumstances for exams or you wish to suspend studies for a while).