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Westmead Clinical School elective placements

Gain valuable clinical skills in medicine and surgery
Elective placements at the Westmead Clinical School offer a great opportunity for students to broaden their clinical skills, grow professionally and stand out to potential employers.

Updated 1 July 2021: Due to travel restrictions in place related to the COVID-19 pandemic, The University of Sydney Medical School will not be accepting elective placement applications or making elective placement offers until further notice. This includes applications for 2022.

The next update will be provided in October 2021. Please check this website then for any updates.

Elective placements

The University of Sydney Westmead Clinical School welcomes elective applications from international and Australian medical students in their final or penultimate years of medical studies. Elective placements are provided on the basis that they are clinical electives, which do not fulfil course requirements for experience in specific disciplines.

Electives are generally offered for between four and eight weeks, with limited opportunities for longer placements. Please note that we are unable to offer elective placements to students from universities where the majority of teaching is delivered online, as students are expected to have a reasonable amount of prior experience in taking histories and examining patients in a clinical setting.

Available placements

  • Anaesthetics
  • Endocrinology
  • Emergency medicine
  • Gastroenterology
  • Haematology
  • Immunology
  • Intensive care medicine
  • Infectious diseases
  • Medical oncology
  • Neurology
  • Palliative care
  • Radiology
  • Renal medicine
  • Respiratory medicine
  • Breast/endocrine
  • Cardiothoracic
  • Colorectal
  • ENT
  • Neurosurgery
  • Orthopaedics
  • Plastic surgery
  • Surgical oncology
  • Transplant
  • Trauma
  • Upper GI
  • Urology
  • Vascular
  • Dermatology (limited)
  • Ophthalmology (limited)
  • Obstetrics and gynaecology
  • Psychiatry
  • Public health

How to apply

Applications for 2020 have closed.

Applications for 2021 are currently suspended until further notice

  • Acceptance of applications for elective terms is at the discretion of the Associate Dean of Sydney Medical School Westmead, subject to student/clinical loads and local considerations.
  • Limited placements are offered from mid-December to mid-January each year in emergency medicine due to the summer holiday and reduced staffing levels.
  • All elective placements must be coordinated via the clinical school and students should not apply directly to a potential supervisor or department head.
  • The majority of the placement is completed in a ward or clinical attachment and, where possible, with local senior students.
  • Elective students may attend large group teaching sessions, ie lectures, grand rounds etc, but do not normally participate in small group sessions such as bedside tutorials, clinical reasoning sessions, etc.
  • Formal assessments are not provided for elective students, without prior arrangement at the application stage.
  • The clinical school will only sign forms provided by students to certify that they have “the same practical (or clinical) rights and responsibilities as local students."

There are mandatory vaccinations required before you can train in any NSW health facility. Please see NSW Health policy directive for more information.



Students should not pay any fees until a formal offer is made. Application and elective fees are payable online at OneStop - Application Fee (not currently accepting payments) upon acceptance of a formal offer.

  • Application fee: $200 AUD
  • Elective fee (up to 4 weeks): $900 AUD
  • Elective fee (up to 5-8 weeks): $1,300 AUD
  • Elective fee (for electives over 8 weeks): $500 AUD per week


Date of notification

Refund amount

Six or more months prior to the start date of your placement 75% of the elective fee
Less than six months and more than three months prior to the start date of your placement 50% of the elective fee
Three months or less to the start of your placement No refund


We have a limited number of single rooms available as student accommodation within the hospital. Please note your interest in being allocated a room for the duration of your stay on your application form. Once a formal offer for an elective placement is made and elective fees paid, room availability will be checked and confirmed if available.

All rooms contain a single bed, desk and wardrobe and linen is provided. Shared areas include kitchens, bathroom, dining, sitting areas and laundry with washing machine and clothes drier. Accommodation charges (outlined in your application) are payable upon arrival, with keys available for collection from the weekend prior from the Hospital Security Office.

Frequently asked questions

Can I apply if English is not my first language?

Yes. The Sydney Medical School welcomes students from all over the world.

For students from non-English speaking backgrounds, it is assumed that students will have an advanced level of English proficiency, both written and oral, prior to commencing an elective placement.

You may be requested to provide evidence of English language proficiency as language difficulties may make an elective placement difficult for patients, students and supervisors. In order for students to benefit from their placements, they should have a minimum English level of IELTS 7.0 or TOEFL 600 (100-iBT, 250-CBT).

If your studies are completed in English, this should be included in the letter of good standing/letter of recommendation. Alternatively, a statement should be included indicating your English ability/level and that your university is satisfied that you will gain sufficient experience to satisfy their requirements, given your English ability.

Can I obtain a refund or postpone my elective?

The University of Sydney does not generally offer refunds for elective fee payments, however a refund may be considered if a student can provide sufficient reasons with supporting documents, ie medical certificate. Cancellations with less than three months’ notice will not be considered. Final decisions regarding refunds are at the discretion of the Associate Dean of the Sydney Medical School Westmead. The $200 application fee is non-refundable and non-transferable.

Can I obtain financial assistance for an elective placement from The University of Sydney?

Financial assistance is not provided for elective placements and students are encouraged to discuss scholarships and financial assistance with their home universities prior to applying.

What is the dress code for an elective placement?

As a medical student on an elective placement, you will be involved in day-to-day interactions with patients, their families and medical staff. These interactions may involve discussion of sensitive issues and the performance of a range of clinical duties.

Your official hospital ID badge must be displayed prominently at all times so that your status as a student is clear.

Students are expected to be well-groomed and professional-looking at all times, ie males should choose a long or short-sleeved, buttoned shirt with collar, with dress trousers and closed toe shoes. Ties should not be worn. Females should wear modest skirts with no short skirts, low-cut tops or exposed midriffs. Long hair should be tied back.

Trainers and jeans are not acceptable items of clothing. Sandals or open-toed shoes are inappropriate for clinical areas as sharp objects can pierce the foot. Stilettos and high platform shoes are also inappropriate.

White coats are not generally worn by doctors in Australia. We would recommend that females bring a small, over-the-shoulder bag, to keep a notebook and pen with them during their placement.

Students should bring their own stethoscopes and ensure that they are engraved to enable them to be returned should they become lost.

Theatre scrubs will be provided to students completing surgical electives. If completing an Emergency Medicine elective, students may elect to wear theatre scrubs. Alternatively, the Emergency Medicine department is happy for students to bring their own scrubs to wear during the placement.

While Australia is not a particularly formal country, please keep in mind that Westmead Hospital serves a multi-cultural and age-diverse population and what could be offensive to others should be taken into consideration.

Is accommodation available?

We have a limited number of single rooms located at the student accommodation within the hospital. Students should note their interest in accessing a room for the duration of their stay on the application form. Once a formal offer for an elective placement is made and elective fees paid, room availability will be checked and confirmed if available. Weekly fees for student accommodation are noted on the formal application form. 

What visa should I apply for?

Overseas students should contact their nearest Australian Consul or view this Government site for visa requirements. We recommend that you apply for your visa promptly as approvals may take some time to finalise.

Elective placements over three months will require an Occupational Trainee Visa and are subject to separate approval by the Associate Dean of the Sydney Medical School Westmead.

All visas are issued at the discretion of the Australian Department of Home Affairs.

Upon entry to Australia, please ensure that you tick the appropriate box on the arrivals card that matches the type of visa you have been granted.

How will I be advised that I have been successful in obtaining an elective placement?

Once we have processed your application and have a placement available to offer to you, we will email a formal letter of offer for you to respond to within two weeks of the date of the email.

What documents will I be required to provide if I am successful in obtaining a placement?

NSW Health has very specific vaccination and criminal record check requirements for incoming elective students at NSW Health hospitals. Failure to comply with NSW Health requirements will result in the placement being cancelled. See this NSW Health site for further information.

Part 1 documents to be provided in one package within two weeks of the date of the formal letter of offer:-

  • Passport-style photograph
  • NSW Health Information Sheet 2: Checklist and
  • Evidence of vaccinations and serology:-
  • Hep B: three vaccinations and a blood test showing proven serology;
  • 1) Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis: one adult dose of dTpa. Please note that this is a specific NSW Health requirement and the vaccination must include Pertussis, not Polio.
  • 2) Measles/Mumps/Rubella: two vaccinations or positive IgG for measles, mumps and rubella.
  • 3) Varicella: two vaccinations or history of varicella either via letter from your GP confirming you had varicella as a child or serology showing positive IgG for Varicella;
  • Form 2: TB Assessment Tool and
  • Mantoux/TST results, as applicable. As Westmead Hospital has a high migrant intake, additional testing may be required depending upon initial results provided.
  • Student Undertaking
  • Code of Conduct

Part 2 documents to be provided in one package:-

  • Letter of recommendation/good standing from a senior faculty member of your university which must be dated within the last twelve months and must be provided with a certified English translation, if not in English;
  • Written evidence from your university or other appropriate body that you are covered for public and professional liability (including medical malpractice) while completing your elective in Australia. This must be dated within 12 months and provided with a certified English translation, if not in English;
  • Prohibited Employment Declaration;
  • Criminal Record Check from home country. This must be the original (or certified copy), be in English (or certified English translation) from the country in which you have spent the majority of the last 12 months and must be dated within 12 months of the last day of your elective. For students from the UK, this is now called a DBS and you will be required to provide an enhanced disclosure.
  • Australian National Police Check which is arranged via the Australian Federal Police. This document is required even if you have not visited Australia previously.

Originals of criminal record check documents will be returned to the student at the first day orientation session.

What is a certified translation?

All documents requested to be provided to the medical school are to be provided in English. If not in English, a certified translation is required to be provided. This includes vaccination documentation. 

All translations must be certified translations. This means that the person who does the translation must be suitably qualified to do so. This depends upon the country you are from so you will need to check suitability with the appropriate authorities.

What is a certified copy?

A certified copy of a document should be endorsed and signed by an appropriate person, ie solicitor, Justice of the Peace, senior member of student’s home school, and must include the certifier’s name, position and official stamp. The endorsement should read "I certify that this is a true copy of the original document”. A family member cannot certify documents.

Senior members of your university may certify documents. Any document certified in this way must include the name and position of that university member and carry the university stamp or seal. If sending more than one page, each page must be certified. This must be done on the front of the document, not on the back.

Once my elective is confirmed, can I change the dates or specialty?

If you have an elective confirmed, it may be possible to change dates and/or placements if enough notice is provided, subject to availability. Once you have started your placement, changes can only be made in exceptional circumstances.

What should I expect on my first day?

Once all required documents have been satisfactorily received, we will email students prior to the commencement of their electives with first day arrival and orientation information. Orientation is generally held from 8.50am on the first day of the student’s elective, when we arrange for students to obtain hospital ID cards, complete a short orientation and then arrange to meet the elective team.

Should a student’s elective placement commence on a Public Holiday, the first day of the elective will be on the next Tuesday and this will be confirmed in the orientation information email, as applicable.

What happens should I become ill while on my placement?

If you are away sick for two or more days, you will be required to show a Doctor’s certificate.

German students, who are not permitted any absent days by their own authorities, must obtain a Doctor’s certificate for any absence due to illness.

Overseas students should investigate hospital/medical costs insurance prior to arrival in Australia otherwise you may be required to pay for any treatment provided by GPs or in-hospital situations.

Can I get student concessions on public transport?

Please note that student concessions are not available for overseas or interstate students for NSW Transport Inspectors regularly check tickets and may impose on-the-spot fines. The most convenient way to get around Sydney is with an Opal card. See the Opal site for further information. 

An International Student ID Card (ISIC) will give you access to a network of specialist student travel offices around the world with savings on accommodation, tours and transportation. See STA Travel for further information.

What limitations will I have as an elective student?

Elective students must always identify themselves as students and their status should be recorded on entries into patient records.

Elective students are not permitted to:-

  • read patient files without the express permission of the term supervisor;
  • make unsupervised treatment decisions;
  • prescribe medications;
  • authorise discharge or admission of patients;
  • complete forms such as death certificates;
  • arrange investigations such as x-rays or blood tests without confirmation by a registered medical practitioner;
  • sign any documentation, request form or discharge letter unless counter-signed by a registered medical practitioner.
Can I attend lectures while completing my elective?

Elective students are invited to attend our Stage 3 Medical Student lecture sessions which are held weekly each Friday during January to September each year. Students are also welcome to attend the weekly Medical Grand Rounds scheduled each Wednesday during February to November each year. Weekly programs will be provided to students, as appropriate.

Can I take leave during my elective?

If you take time off during your elective, this will be noted as an absence on your paperwork. We will only sign your forms for the exact dates that you are here. If you choose to leave your placement early, your paperwork will reflect this.

When is the earliest I can book my return flights?

The earliest time you could fly out would be late Friday night or Saturday morning, following the conclusion of your elective. You need to bear in mind that international passengers are required to be at the airport three hours before the scheduled flight time to arrange check-in, etc.

Will I get to meet local students?

Most elective placements will run concurrently with our local, senior student placements and it is highly likely that you will meet local students during your placement. You will also have access to the student common room where local students meet during program breaks and at lunch time.

Is internet access available?

Internet access is available via PCs located at the medical school.

Westmead Clinical School

Administration for clinical school
  • +61 2 9891 3749
  • Level 6, Block K, Entrance 10 Westmead Hospital

Westmead Hospital