Federated States of Micronesia - FSM Department of Health and Social Affairs



Impressions of Micronesia

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Paul Bonnitcha - medical student from Sydney Medical School, undertook an Elective in Micronesia 2012–13

"An elective in the Federated States of Micronesia is a fantastic opportunity to study medicine while relaxing on a tropical island. The people are friendly and the island views of the Pacific are spectacular. The elective is based on the island of Pohnpei, where you can choose to work in a hospital clinical setting and/or with the Public Health Department. Clinically, you will come across a wide variety of infectious tropical diseases as well as significant amounts of non-communicable diseases, particularly diabetes and its complications. Ultimately, the doctors are very happy to teach you and generally you have a great deal of flexibility in choosing the departments you work with and the hours of work.

Outside the hospital, there is a wealth of sporting and other activities to do. The island is dotted with numerous waterfalls and hikes, reefs for snorkelling and diving are abundant and weekend trips to nearby atolls are spectacular. Pohnpei also offers some of the best surfing in the world.


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Getting to Micronesia is quite expensive and the cost of living is higher than one would perhaps expect. While accommodation is cheap, utilities such as electricity, water, internet and petrol are very expensive. Similarly, while seafood and bananas are cheap, most other foods are imported and thus quite costly or highly processed, particularly meat and dairy products. It is also recommended you have a means of accessing cash other than an Australian bank issued visa/master card as strangely, these are not recognized as credit cards by any of Pohnpei’s 4 ATMs (they can still be used for credit- signature transactions). Similarly, it is recommended to travel with surge protectors for all your electrical devices as the electrical power output is known to be unstable.

Overall, an elective in the Federated States of Micronesia offers a great opportunity to combine flexible study with a wealth of outdoor activities."