Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Student opportunities

There are many opportunities to enhance your experiences as an undergraduate. This may be as a component of your formal curriculum or as additional activities which the University can support.

These range from engaging in extracurricular research with one of the academic staff, being involved in clinical electives, especially during your senior years, to spending time in other Universities and healthcare institutions as part of undergraduate student exchanges. To explore these further follow the links below.

Clinical electives

Clinical electives offer our students the opportunity to work as part of a healthcare team during the summer after completion of Senior Cycle I. They are valuable experiences for those who wish to enhance their curriculum, experience particular specialties, develop contacts for their future careers or simply to gain further knowledge during their time as RCSI medical students.

Our students enjoy a wide range of elective opportunities both in Ireland and abroad. Students have undertaken placements in countries as diverse as Canada, USA, UK, Australia, Singapore, Malta, Moldova, Vietnam, Qatar, Ghana and Tanzania amongst others. Disciplines and specialties can vary from family medicine, surgery, oncology, paediatrics, cardiology to bariatric surgery and beyond.

Participating in a clinical elective abroad exposes our students to global healthcare systems and allows them to experience how medicine is practised and how doctors engage with teams and patients in different parts of the world.

The RCSI electives team sources a number of elective opportunities each year via collaborative agreements with different institutions, and assists students at the application stage for both these and independently-sourced electives.

This summer couldn’t be more different than the last.

Last summer, I spent six and a half days each week chained to a desk. Nine weeks I spent studying for the USMLE Step 1. Nine gruelling weeks. Nine worthwhile weeks, that prepared me for the challenges of Fourth Med. Last October, I attended the RCSI Electives Night. Older students underlined the importance of their elective experience for US residency applications. Flattering, often fulsome 'Letters of Recommendation' became their currency. These letters, in addition to strong Step 1 grade, could mean more than your college degree.

I scheduled a one-on-one meeting with RCSI's excellent Career Development Manager, Fionnuala Rahilly. She advised me to make a 10-year plan – then make it happen. She encouraged me to apply for electives – not only in the US, but in the UK. Jenner, Addison, Hodgkins ... alumni of London hospitals are venerated for good reason. So I put my nose to the grindstone. I rifled through my belongings for a birth certificate and bank statements. I applied to the college for exam transcripts and Dean's Letters. I dusted off my CV and I applied to three London hospitals: St George's NHS Trust, Barts and the London, and Kings College Hospital. I was accepted for all three. Spoilt for choice, I elected for Paediatrics at St George's in July. In August, I opted for Emergency Medicine at King's College.

Thanks to a generous grant from the RCSI Alumni Clinical Elective Fund, my fears were unfounded. Financially unburdened, I could experience London to its fullest. In my first two weeks, I watched the Wimbledon semi-finals from courtside seats. I've seen jousting at Hampton Court Palace. I have strolled through Kew Gardens' palatial 320 acres. And of course, I have attended innumerable West End plays and musicals, from 1984 to Miss Saigon.

Best of all, my elective has been engaging and rewarding. St George's medical students are knee-deep in examinations, meaning that I have the run of the place! I can attend Ward Rounds and clinics with more than a dozen Paediatric consultants. I can scrub in for surgeries. I can spend the day in the Intensive Care Unit, or the Neonatal Ward or even Day Care. I have joined informative postgraduate and safeguarding tutorials. I believe I have developed a deeper understanding of Paediatric subspecialties. And I hope this will guide me in my future career.

Cormac Duff Student Testimonial

Cormac Duff
Ireland, Final Year Medicine
(Class of 2016)


Student exchange

Our student exchange programmes present an ideal opportunity to experience student life in another country. RCSI has a number of arrangements in place with other universities and students from both the Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy can avail of these exchange opportunities.

RCSI offers its medicine students in either Junior Cycle 3 or Intermediate Cycle 2 the opportunity to apply to study for one semester at RCSI Bahrain as part of the RCSI Student Mobility Exchange Programme. The service is coordinated by the Student Services department in conjunction with the Junior Cycle and Intermediate Cycle Directors and the Vice-Dean for Student Support and Development.

The School of Pharmacy offers its students the opportunity to study for one semester at the University of Lorraine in Nancy (through the Erasmus+ programme). Students can also apply to participate in a range of international electives in the USA and China during their programme.

Most recently, both RCSI Medical and Pharmacy students had the chance to participate in a Summer Exchange Programme with Soochow University in China and spend the summer in Suzhou as part of a research team.

I'm from Dublin and I'm going into my 4th year in RCSI. I love travel and over the past year I have spent a summer in San Francisco, a semester in Bahrain and now a summer in China. The cultural differences have been fascinating! I'm particularly interested in the field of genetics as it is so rapidly growing. Ideally I would like to work in a hospital as I enjoy the ever-changing schedule and interacting with a wide variety of people on a daily basis. I would also like to be involved in research projects throughout my career as I appreciate the need to progress and contribute academically.

This summer I worked on a project under the supervision of Professor Zhen Xuechu at the Soochow University (SU). The aim of this project is to identify microRNA dysregulation in schizophrenia to identify possible targets for its treatment. We investigated the effect of microRNA mimics on some of these targets.

During our time in SU we attended an organic chemistry lecture given by one of our PIs. The Chinese students were quite shocked to see us walk into their classroom! We've also kept ourselves very active- testing out the local climbing wall, playing badminton or basketball with others in our lab, some of the boys even joined in a football match with the staff. We explored the local area including Dushu Lake and went out for food at nearby squares. We also took a weekend trip to Hangzhou in the neighbouring province where we visited temples, pagodas, tea fields and hiked around the beautiful West Lake.

Though the language barrier can be difficult to overcome sometimes, it does make for some entertaining games of charades!

Aoife Bourke Student Testimonial

Aoife Bourke
Ireland, Fourth Year Medicine
(Class of 2017)

Erasmus programme

Studying at RCSI under the Erasmus programme is dependent on an exchange agreement existing between your home university and RCSI. If you are interested in an exchange opportunity in RCSI, please check with your Erasmus coordinator or with the international office in your home university to see if an exchange agreement exists.

To find out more information about the courses in RCSI visit the courses section or to find out about student life in RCSI please visit the student life section of the website. Our student videos will give you an overview of life in RCSI. You will also find useful information in the about RCSI section of the website.

For further information about the RCSI Erasmus Programme email