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Volume 3, Issue 1  December 2015
Happy New Month

We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, as we usher in December, the last month of the year, the month of evaluating the resolutions set at the beginning of the year, we hope that the year has been good to you.

In this newsletter issue, we explore the various types of medicines across the world, how to effectively use your gap year time, the importance of a pre-health advisor and handling difficult patients.

You do not want to miss out on this, join the wagon and enjoy the ride.

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Utilizing Your Gap Year

Gap year is that period just a year before going to a university or college after an individual has completed high school or that year taken before getting into graduate school.

Gap year can be utilized with activities that include: pre-college math courses, trade learning, studying language, the study of art, interning, volunteering, travelling and participating in sporting activities.

A gap year is necessary due to a number of factors that vary from individuals and families. Individuals may take a gap year to: study for MCAT exams, get the much needed break from all the book and work hustles, and deal with stress such as medical school application rejection, raise money, and gain experience while volunteering.

This being the only long free time that individuals are going to have, it is best that it is utilized for growth. The mentioned factors that indicate why individuals need a gap year to form the perfect basis for growth: 

Study for MCAT Exams

This is a very appropriate time to study and prepare for your MCAT exams and score the best grades for students looking to join medical college.


Going to volunteer in various institutions help you get a proper and clear understanding about what medicine entails, this gives you insight and sufficient knowledge about medicine field.

Volunteering abroad will no doubt improve your knowledge on tropical diseases and give you a platform to conduct various researches.

Shadowing Experiences

Shadowing medical doctors and other healthcare practitioners is another way to spend your gap year while promoting self-growth. This provides a realistic view and first-hand experience of a day to day activities in the life of a doctor.

Raising money

Students could find a job during their gap year to supplement their finances at school or to pay their debts, this money can also be used as pocket money or they could save up.


Dealing with rejection of your medical school application, pressure from school and books is not as easy as most people tend to think. It is a very stressing and demanding moment that requires sufficient relaxation, providing no chance of thinking about the hustles.

Have an exciting Gap Year, be catered for by the right people, and let us offer you an unforgettable lifetime experience.

Travel with Elective Africa and have the time of your life.

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Importance of a Pre-health Advisor

Joining medical school is among those journeys’ in life that you would not want to find yourself partaking alone. The pre-health advisor at either your learning institution or any other institution of your choice plays a great deal in these choices.

It is usually advised that you meet with a pre-health advisor in the early stages of your post-secondary career, but meeting them earlier will be an added advantage, so do not take any chances! The importance of an advisor is not debatable as they are a very important asset in the following aspects:

They counsel on selection of courses

Pre-health advisors plan and recommend proper schedule of science courses that medical schools require applicants to take, for those who had not taken science majors.

They plan for study groups.

The advisors link you up and put you in study groups that connect you with students pursuing the same career path as you. This enables you to brainstorm and get ideas from your peers, also boosting your esteem and belief in yourself.

Personal statement drafting

This is one of the best ways to sell yourself at medical school and earn that admission into medical school. This is through ensuring that it is convincing and is up to the required standards.

Coordination of MCAT preparation strategies

Advisors help you in preparing for your MCAT exams and making clear to you your strengths and weaknesses while giving you the best strategies of tackling the exams.

Provide inspiration

Your pre-health advisor can also counsel you through obstacles you might encounter along the way while applying for or studying in medical school.

Recommendation letters

Effective recommendation supporting your application is another gateway into medical school. The advisors assist you in getting them or getting the best recommenders.

Time utilization

Your advisor can give you tips on the activities to undertake to utilize your free time such as shadowing experiences and volunteering.

Take your time and talk to a pre-health advisor, get the right facts and tips while making this crucial decision.



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Traditional Medical Practices

According to World Health Organization (WHO), traditional medicine refers to health practices, approaches, knowledge and beliefs incorporating plant, animal and mineral based medicines, spiritual therapies, manual techniques and exercises, applied singularly or in combination to treat, diagnose and prevent illnesses or maintain well-being.

Sources of Traditional Medicine

The medication comes from the roots, leaves, trunks and seeds of wild plants. Roots, leaves, trucks and seeds are dried and stored. Some are pounded and stored in powder form. Boiling is one of the ways of preparing traditional medicine. Leaves are pounded, soaked in warm water or burnt to ashes and applied on the affected body part.

Leaves, roots or barks are chewed but drugs were mostly administered according to the disease they treat and method of preparation. For example, pounded drugs unless boiled are mixed with ghee and applied to the affected part of the body. Juice from boiled stuff was drunk for internal treatment or used for bathing.

Sometimes the affected part is cut with a razor blade and medicine rubbed on the cut. A number of aromatic drugs are used in steam form by boiling them first and letting the patient inhale the vapor from the steam. Drugs can also be mixed with food and eaten. For example, the Maasais’ of Kenya take their drugs in milk and blood and other communities used the drugs in soup while modern people take their herbal medicine in tea.

Traditional Vs Modern medicine

This question has been debatable for a while as people try to understand how modern and traditional medicine co-exist

Most Asian countries have fully integrated traditional medicine into their health care systems, many African countries are yet to collect and integrate standardized evidence on this type of health care.

Medicinal products or herbs are defined differently in different countries and diverse approaches have been adopted with regard to licensing, dispensing, manufacturing and trading.

The practice of herbal medicine should not be considered primitive, rather should be embraced as is the case in most Asia countries. It should not be downgraded as a result of the introduction of conventional medicine that are available in more patient friendly (compliant) formulations such as syrups, capsules and tablets as opposed to traditional roots, barks and leaves which are often bitter to taste.

Meanwhile, modern medicine is desperately short of new treatments. Drugs take years to get through the research and development pipeline, at enormous cost. And rising drug resistance, partly caused by misuse of medicines, has rendered several antibiotics and other life-saving drugs ineffective.

Traditional medicine can greatly contribute to the treatment of every day emerging lifestyle and chronic diseases. This has been testified by the increase of scientists and pharmaceutical companies that are rapidly and desperately searching traditional medicine for new drug sources.

Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacognosy, University of Nairobi

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Handling Difficult Patients

During your standard and supervised medical electives abroad with Elective Africa, one of the most important aspects of medical training is clinical rotations. During rotations you will directly deal with different kinds of patients. In most cases, patients will be polite and comply but in some cases patients may be hard to deal with for a number of reasons.


What does a difficult Patient constitute?

In most cases one would expect a patient to be polite, reserved and thankful for the medical services. Patients can be difficult in different ways. They can be angry about their situation or the care they are receiving. Angry patients can yell, curse or even become violent. Patients can also be manipulative. They can threaten, cajole, cry or throw tantrums in an attempt to get their way. They are fixated on getting some special treatment, or asking for more pain medication or many more demands.

Factors to consider when handling difficult patients.

  • Connect with a patient; when patients are frustrated it would help if would greatly help when they feel they are being heard. A simple statement as ‘’I can understand how u feel’’ can easily diffuse a situation. Compassion goes a long way!
  • Stay objective; don’t get drawn into conflict. It is easy to lose your cool when a patient is yelling at you. As a med student, you need to be learning on how to handle tensed up situations professionally and reasonably.
  • Do not take it personally; when you come across a difficult patient try to remember that you may be dealing with them at the most difficult point in their lives. Try to remember to be considerate and this may be a good way to handle a tough situation.
  • Understand the causes of mood disturbances; a patient experiencing withdrawals from drugs or alcohol may have hallucinations or become paranoid, which can lead to combative behavior. Knowing a patient’s history before seeing them will give you a heads up on the situation and allow you to be better prepared.   
  • Be Vigilant; recognize signs of pain, dosage, anger, anxiety before the situation gets out of hand. Most times anger is misplaced and therefore when a patient is upset they may direct it at you. Watch out for signs of anger, such as clenched fists, wringing of the hands and a furrowed brow.

With a passion in healthcare, not even a patient will make you give up as you will want the best for them, reserve your abroad medical internship/rotation with Elective Africa and get the best experience.


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