University of Alberta 2015
I chose Work the World for my elective because while researching for volunteer electives, it has the most comprehensive support system in the place. The house, staff and hospital support were all the main factors that contributed to my decision. The pre-departure support was helpful in that it provided me with a timeline and staff sent me helpful emails to remind me of the deadlines. At the time, I found the information package comprehensive.
The pick-up and orientation were extremely helpful in terms of getting my feet on the ground. The orientation was a fun day skipping around the city and seeing things I would not have found on my own. I found it very tailored to my wants and Uma even took me to get Heena Tattoo!
My placement was in Gastro ward. The differences in hospital care from my home country mostly stem from lack of resources or money. In general ward, there is a very high patient to nurse ratio, so most of the work we might associate with nurses back home is delegated to the family here. While nurses might organize the care or prescription, it is the family’s job to pick it up and administer most of it to the patient. Other things like re-using IV tubing are done to save money for the patients. A few interesting cases I have seen include multiple cases of disseminated TB in non-HIV patients and just the amount of alcoholic liver disease with Cirrhosis of the liver. It is very interesting to see their infection precautions and I even saw a lymph node biopsy done to help diagnose the disseminated Tuberculosis.
The cultural exchange with the staffs is interesting to talk about the differences in care. They like to ask about patient to nurse ratios, schooling, what skills nurses perform overseas and how respected the nursing profession is. It has also been fun to work with student nurses and see how their education in the hospital differs from mine and the amount of responsibilities they have with their patients. The biggest cultural shock for me has been the language barrier and finding my way around the busy street.
Some of my favorite travel activities include the weekend trip to Pokhara and Paragliding. Also it is super fun to go on a night out in Thamel to have dinner and meet local people. I love living in the house with all the medical students. It is great to come home and share your experiences and also to learn about the health care system of other countries.
My advice for other students would be prepared for the language barrier. It is bigger than you might think. Ask as many questions as you can in the hospital. They are happy to let you move around and try things but you have to ask.