Student Electives

Student Electives at Murambinda Mission Hospital, Zimbabwe.

This is a busy district general hospital in rural Zimbabwe with a long tradition of hosting students. Murambinda offers a wonderful opportunity to students of any health professions to learn via elective placements. It has full outpatient facilities, x-ray, ultrasound, with paediatric, maternity, general adult and TB wards comprising around 120 beds. It acts as a hub to around 20 nurse lead rural clinics. It has played a pioneering role in expanding the provision of anti-retrovirals to rural areas.

  • Requests for electives are best made at least 6 months before the student needs to start.
  • Medical Students will require central clearance from University of Zimbabwe, for which an administration fee of approximately US$ 300 will be payable, and thereafter registration with the Medical & Dental Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe for which there is a fee of US$ 30. The Hospital will facilitate the process. There will also be a charge of US$ 200 for a study permit from the Immigration Office. (This information was correct in December 2014  but you will need to check that this is still the case)  
  • For a summary of  application process Elective flowchart Dec14
  • The hospital can ensure students are met at Harare Airport and can arrange transport to and from the Airport and overnight accommodation in Harare if necessary.
  • The Hospital will provide accommodation within the Hospital grounds.
  • Hosting two students together is easier for the hospital than one provided that they are of the same gender and willing to share accommodation.
  • The Hospital will charge US$50 per month for accommodation and utilities.

For informal enquiries please email

Images of a recent student elective visit by Matthew Anderson, Alastair Watson and Henry de Fresne.

Photo 28-07-2013 x400 08 41 07Photo 26-07-2013 x400 13 50 54

Photo 28-07-2013 x400 16 11 43

If you wish to apply please write to Sr Silindiwe Shamu, Matron with copies to (main hospital e-mail address) (Friends of Murambinda Hospital Trustee and Student elective co-ordinator), Michael Thompson, Chair, Friends of Murambinda Hospital

Returning students are warmly invited to join with Friends of Murambinda in the UK and maintain their link with the Hospital, which has benefited greatly in the past from their experience.

 I spent some time at a rural hospital in Zimbabwe undertaking my midwifery elective.  You may also have gathered that I was inspired, awed and touched by the people I met and privileged to experience the kindness of the Zimbabwean people as well as the provision of excellent maternity care in an incredibly resource poor environment.  Strength, humour, spirituality, acceptance and fortitude were, however, in rich supply.  I witnessed the tangible and vital part that Murambinda Mission Hospital (MMH) plays in making birth safer and in reducing the significant maternal and infant mortality and morbidity which is part of life in Africa.  

JH Midwifery student 2012

I would like to thank you so much for affording me the opportunity of going to Murambinda to visit the CARC, it truly was a thoroughly enjoyable and eye-opening experience, albeit quite harrowing when witnessing the living circumstances which many of the children have to endure. 

GM Medical Student 2012

A typical day for us at Murambinda would start with morning prayers at 7:30, and even this was very interesting for us. Just seeing all of the hospital staff gather together to sing was surprising, and immediately reminded us how different African culture is! This would be followed by ward rounds with whichever doctor was on duty. For me this was frequently the most useful part of the day in terms of learning. Usually, we would visit every single inpatient in the hospital, and the doctor would take us through the more interesting cases, and take us through the presentation and treatment of conditions you would rarely see back home, such as malnutrition and TB. Also, the doctors got into a routine of handing us the patient’s x-rays as we came to them, which was very helpful, and introduced us to images of varying quality, rather than the uniformly pristine ones you would get at home. This probably helped our learning though, because we were forced to use what we had. We had a quick break after rounds, then either went to the minor procedure room or the OPD. Minor ops was where we probably spent the most time out of anywhere in the hospital, and we observed a huge variety of procedures, and helped out with things like catheters, incision and drainage and applying casts. Also, there would occasionally be a caesarean section on in the main theatre, and we would make an effort to observe that if possible.

For me personally, the most interesting part of the elective was learning about HIV. This was a unique opportunity to see the more obscure conditions that occur with CD4 counts below 200, because you would only really see that sort of thing in textbooks back home. We were very lucky to see cases of Kaposi sarcoma, cryptococcal meningitis and oesophageal candidiasis, among others. Also, the indications and side effects of the principal antiretroviral drugs are now burned into my brain, because I have seen them being prescribed, so I can associate them with particular patients, as opposed to pages in a textbook. But aside from dry learning, this also gave us the opportunity to see the human cost of this disease. The sheer number of patients coming through the HIV clinic always astonished me, even more so considering they were usually in and out of the room in less than a minute. Thankfully, the disease was well controlled in the majority, but just seeing the huge proportion of people affected gave me some idea of the huge toll it takes on the country.

In terms of things that could be alleviated by greater funding, a few things jumped out at us. One thing that was very obvious as we walked round the hospital was that the wheelchairs were in a universally bad condition. The majority had flat tyres, and some were missing wheels entirely. You could see that this made it more difficult for families to care for their ill relatives, so just a few new wheelchairs may make a big difference. Also, something we noticed was that families were often left to grieve in public spaces, while patients and staff carried on around them. Perhaps building a family room or similar might help avoid this.

Overall, this was a really remarkable experience for us. I felt very privileged to be granted access to the hospital, and it was an amazing insight into how medicine is different in a resource-poor setting. And, the fact that we managed to travel around an amazing country at the same time was a great bonus. I would not hesitate to recommend it to any medical student who is interested in overseas electives.

TB Medical Student from Ireland, July 2015

 The hospital is supported by Friends of Murambinda Hospital (UK registered Charity 1073978) a network of supporters many of whom have worked in the past at the hospital.

 For a summary of  application process Elective flowchart Dec14

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