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Medical education through an invasion: insights from an elective programme for Ukrainian medical students at the University of Cambridge

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Hodkinson, Joy 
Lillicrap, Mark 
Wilkinson, Paul 
Bevan, Stephen 
Shenheliia, Tamari 


Medical students in Ukraine have faced extraordinary disruption to their clinical studies with both the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent Russian military invasion forcing a majority of their learning to be conducted remotely. Over the summer of 2022, the School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge hosted 20 medical students from Kharkiv National Medical University for a seven-week intensive clinical elective programme. The aim was to provide an immersive clinical placement that would help students to attain the necessary knowledge and experience to become competent and confident practising doctors. This perspective piece aims to support the development of future equivalent exchanges through outlining the placement’s context, its planning and implementation, evidence of placement impact, and finally reflections and learning points.


Peer reviewed: True

Acknowledgements: We wish to thank the Ukrainian students for their candid feedback and insightful reflections. Cassandra Mura, Sarah Monamy, Philippa Moore were also integral to the delivery of the programme and we are grateful for their hard work. For their friendly welcome and support of the programme, we would like to thank Homerton College, Cambridge. There is no doubt that the programme would not have been feasible in its existing format without such financial backing. As such, we extend our utmost thanks to our donors. Finally, we wish to thank Dr. Isobel Fitzgerald O’Connor for her impetus in helping the development of the programme, her work to obtain funding, and for her ongoing commitment to widening access to medical training for medical students from across the globe.


Ukraine, placement, elective, Kharkiv, Cambridge, medical, war, student

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