We take a glimpse from behind the lens at some of our members' most memorable elective experiences.

For more than four years now, we've been asking students to send us the best photos they've taken while on elective, for our bi-monthly photograph competition

Elective placements are all about new experiences, personal and career development and finding yourself in exciting new situations – all of which we see come to life in the pictures sent to us by our members.

We've rounded up some of 2016's most memorable snapshots so far – some quirky, some heart-warming, some breath-taking – to give a glimpse of the unforgettable experiences our members have had on elective.

Three elephants in safari park

Photo credit: Hannah Panayiotou

'This is my favourite elective photograph. I took it whilst racing to get out of a safari park before the gate closed (self-drive tour hazard), but couldn't resist stopping to watch a herd of the most beautiful elephants walking in a line into the sunset. These three family members, with their perfectly-timed pace and smiles on the sunset-lit plain, are the epitome of nature for me.'

- Hannah Panayiotou. Elective: Namibia 

Training session Gloucester rugby club

Photo credit: Jessica Prosser

'I took this photo during a training session at Gloucester Rugby Club, where I spent some time on my Sports Medicine elective. A fantastic atmosphere to observe and be a part of!'

- Jessica Prosser. Elective: Gloucester, United Kingdom. 

Volcanoes of Kawah Ijen, Java

Photo credit: Adam Hill

'To end our elective I opted to jump from the proverbial frying pan of Papua'n heat and quite literally into the fires of the Indonesian volcanoes with a visit to Kawah Ijen in Java. My fellow adventurer and I found ourselves surrounded by blue sulphur flames – a sight I'm happy to share!'

- Adam Hill. Elective: Papua New Guinea.

Sleeping family, hospital in St Vincent

Photo credit: Thomas Davies

'I took this photo on my general surgery rotation in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It captures an intimate moment where some relatives catch a few minutes' sleep as the lady's mother underwent surgery. Surgery was successful and permission was obtained from the subjects. I particularly like this photograph as it not only tells a story, but also reflects the vibrancy of the island's culture and people in the colour and imperfect geometry.'

- Thomas Davies. Elective: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Rescue post in Himalayas, Nepal

Photo credit: Eddie Crawford

'I spent my elective in the Himalayas with the doctors from the International Porter Protection Group. This was the view from the doctors' room at the Gokyo Rescue Post at 4700m.'

- Eddie Crawford. Elective: The Himalayas, Nepal.

Microscope slides showing Kato-Katz technique

Photo credit: James Penney

'Microscope slides of faecal material, prepared using the Kato-Katz technique, to look for schistosome eggs. We performed a prevalence study in Marolambo, one of the most remote regions in Madagascar, and found that 94% of children had Schistosomiasis.'

- James Penney. Elective: Marolambo, Madagascar.

Ambulance plane, Melbourne Victoria

Photo credit: Sarah Simons

'This is a photo I took on my elective with the Neonate Emergency Transfer team in Melbourne with Ambulance Victoria. It was the first call of the day to retrieve a baby in a small town in Victoria, the ambulance plane was being prepped for the trip just as the sun was rising and it was absolutely beautiful!'

- Sarah Simons. Elective: Melbourne, Australia.

Bundala National Park, Galle, Sri Lanka

Photo credit: Josephine Robertson

'This photo was taken in the Bundala National Park, Sri Lanka during a weekend trip out of Galle, where I was undertaking a placement in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. The park is particularly well-known for its birds, and we came across this displaying peacock on an early morning safari drive.'

- Josephine Robertson. Elective: Galle, Sri Lanka. 

Lake Bunyoni, rural Uganda

Photo credit: Veena Aggarwal

'This photo was taken in Lake Bunyoni, southwest rural Uganda, where I spent my elective last month. There are many islands on the lake, including a former leprosy colony which has now been converted into a school. Locals travel around the lake and its islands by dugout canoe, made from the eucalyptus tree. Our attempt to travel this way resulted in endlessly spinning around in circles, so we had to enlist some local help!'

- Veena Aggarwal. Elective: Uganda. 

Seals lounging, Orkney Islands

Photo credit: Zoe Bush

'During my elective placement in general practice, in between home visits and evening surgery, I'd taken a walk on the beach on the island and was delighted to see a large group of around 30 seals. There were both Common Seals and Grey Seals, which is apparently fairly rare to see. Luckily, some of them were happy to have their photo taken!'

- Zoe Bush. Elective: Rousey, Orkney Islands.

Acatengo volcano, Guatemala

Photo credit: Caitlin Whittaker

'This photo was taken in Guatemala whilst on a hiking expedition up Acatenango – the third-highest volcano in Central America. After a gruelling walk through volcanic ash to the peak at 3976m, we camped overnight and watched lava erupting from the neighbouring volcano while toasting marshmallows over the open fire. At 4:30am the next morning we all got up early to watch the sun rise over the volcanoes and I was lucky enough to capture this stunning photo.'

- Caitlin Whittaker. Elective: Guatemala.

Have you been on elective recently? Did you take a photo that captures the essence and excitement of your time there?

The MDU elective photo competition is open to all student members enrolled at a UK medical school. Send your photo, along with a brief description of the scene and location, to photos@themdu.com

Every two months, our judging panel chooses a winning entry – and rewards the winner with a gift voucher to the value of £80.

For more information on how to enter, visit our website. Take a look at previous entries on our Facebook page

This page was correct at publication on 12/07/2016. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.