Saskia Veldkamp studies at the Universiteit van Amsterdam.
Having finished my Bachelor of Medicine and waiting for my clinical rotations to start, I wanted to put my time off to the best possible use. Experiencing a new healthcare setting abroad seemed the ideal solution.
Work the World were a perfect choice; they offered personal guidance both before and during the placement, helped me personalise my placement, and worked out every tiny detail. Their team gave me a great deal of information about the house I would be staying in, the hospital I would be working in, and everything else I could want for that matter.
A member of Work the World’s Ghana team met me at the airport after I had landed in-country. They took me back to the house, and when we arrived, I had a chance to settle in. Shortly thereafter, the team took me through my welcome briefing, a great tour of the city, and then to the hospital to meet who I’d be working with. All this prepared me for my time in Ghana and helped me feel at ease.
I spent my first two weeks in the hospital in the Pediatrics Department. I joined the morning rounds and often went to the Pediatric Outpatient Clinic in the afternoons. My third week was in OBG and NICU. I examined preterm babies, witnessed a delivery and spent time the operating room. During night shifts (organised by Work the World for those interested), I chatted with local nurses about their lives, their culture and how their world was both different from and similar to mine.
I spent the last week of my placement in the Emergency Department. This final week left a lasting impression on me. I saw the sheer ingenuity of local doctors and nurses forced to be creative due to the distinct lack of resources in the hospital. I also observed significant cultural differences with regards to handling emergencies and death. Was it frustrating to come to terms with the fact that, in certain cases, there was nothing more that could be done for a patient? Yes. But I was deeply impressed by the how medical staff managed to make things work in their own way.
Returning to the Work the World house from the hospital every day was a blessing.
We had delicious food prepared for us, a cool pool to swim in, and idle but insightful chit chat with the Work the World staff, the latter being especially important after a difficult day. We shopped in the town centre and went out for drinks with other friends from the house, soaking up Takoradi’s unique atmosphere. We had weekly language lessons in the house, and every Thursday the team hosted BBQ night with all the students and the staff. The evenings were filled with great food and plenty of dancing.
I explored Ghana at the weekends in the company of the other students from the house—I made great friends from the USA, UK, Australia and elsewhere. On our travels, we slept in jungle tree houses, had surfing lessons at the beach, visited a stilt village built over the water, and enjoyed playtime with local children.
My placement in Takoradi, Ghana was amazing. There’s no other way to put it. I learned about the differences in healthcare and culture, and was able to explore the beautiful country itself. Work the World made me feel secure and at home. I am particularly thankful for the local staff who were welcoming. Now, a year later, I still often think back on my time in Ghana and I know for certain I will go back.