Viterbo University 2022

Nursing, The Philippines Iloilo

I have a friend who told me that Work the World organised his healthcare placement for him in Iloilo. He showed us photos and told us all about the experience, and it all just sounded amazing. I graduate later this year, and it’s a lot harder to travel when you have a full-time job that doesn’t give you much vacation time.

I really wanted to just get out there and experience another culture. I’d heard especially great things about The Philippines — the society, and how friendly the people are… It was all of those things combined that made me want to travel there.

In the lead up to departing I had calls with the team from the Work the World head office. The organisation was great. They would reach out and schedule these calls to make sure we were doing okay with planning, or if we needed help finding flights and whatnot.

I didn’t really expect that level of assistance. It was really reassuring to know someone was always there for whatever we needed. On the way to the airport, our main flight got cancelled and we had to leave much earlier than we thought we’d have to. And our contact at Work the World was in contact with us the whole time. They went above and beyond and it made travelling a lot less stressful than it would have been.

When we landed in The Philippines, we were a little nervous about being able to find the Work the World staff who were there to meet us. But they found us before we found them, and everyone (even the airport staff) was so friendly. Everyone seemed happy to see us.

When we got to the Work the World house, the chefs already had breakfast prepared for us. It was so welcoming, and any nervousness I had was gone from then on.

We went to see our placement hospital the next day. It was so busy, much busier than I expected it to be. There were groups of people sitting and waiting for care outside the hospital, and even patients sharing beds. I could tell right away that I was in for an experience that was going to be very different from what I was used to back home.

One thing that stood out to me was how efficiently the nurses used the resources they had. One example is that they didn’t have tourniquets over there so they had to use rubber gloves instead. Before I saw it for myself I had this image that the procedures wouldn’t be as advanced as they are back home. But in reality I found a lot of similarities with things like inserting IVs or with wound care.

I was surprised that in the Operating Room, they followed sterile field in the exact same way and they were strict with what you could or couldn’t wear in the OR. They had a lot of the same rules and the same techniques.

In OBG I observed a natural vaginal birth and that was tough to watch. They didn’t really give the labouring women any pain medication and they’re expected to stay quiet throughout the birth. What was even more challenging for them was that they weren’t allowed to have a partner with them during labour. It was a case of, 'let’s hurry up and get this baby out because there are lots of other women waiting to give birth'.

There was one woman who had been in labour for several hours. Eventually, they just took some scissors and performed a rough episiotomy. She must have been in a lot of pain, but she gripped the bars on either side of the bed and they pulled the baby out. It was really something to see, and quite confronting.

Things are different after birth as well. The baby is taken away from the mother, cleaned and then put into a separate room. She doesn’t get to see her baby for several hours - sometimes days - let alone experiencing something like skin to skin.

I had a great experience outside of the hospital too. I travelled with five friends, but we all immediately clicked with the other people in the house. We had a lot of fun even just hanging out in the house. We played board games in the evenings, chatted about our experiences in the hospital…

We planned weekend trips together too. A group of twenty of us went to Boracay on the first weekend. It’s one of the smaller islands with beautiful beaches and has a bit of a party atmosphere. I met some lifelong friends on that trip. On the second weekend we all travelled to Cebu to swim with whale sharks, which was an amazing experience. We did canyoneering too and went to visit some beautiful waterfalls.

Before I got to The Philippines, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from it. It was so beautiful that it blew me away, the people were amazing, the landscapes were stunning… If I could go back I would.

It was through weekend trips like this that we all grew closer and closer together over the weeks we were there. It played a big part in making the house feel like a home.

I felt like I was coming home to my friends each evening after placement because we did so much together.

It’s worth remembering that you need to go into a trip like this with an open mind. But you will always have professional support and guidance throughout the whole experience.

The people of The Philippines were so welcoming too. It’s an experience that you can’t get without actually being there and seeing it for yourself.

Start your journey

Browse all of our destinations to see what kind of once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunities are in store for you.

Search Reviews