Glasgow Caledonian University 2010
As soon as I began my nursing course and realised I could do an elective placement in 2nd year I was desperate to do this. I spent ages looking at ways to do it and organisations that would help, so when I came across the Work the World website I knew it was for me.
The staff at Work the World were extremely helpful in providing me with loads of advice and information to prepare me for my six week long elective placement. I immediately decided to go to Tanzania after seeing the pictures of gorgeous beaches in Zanzibar and also having spent some time in Malawi previously I expected the people to be just as friendly and they did not let me down!
I arrived in Dar es Salaam airport feeling pretty nervous but was immediately put at ease by Baptista who met me there with a huge smile! He took me back to the house, showed me around and introduced me to the rest of the staff, all with similar big smiles, and the other students many of whom had also just recently arrived. The house was lovely with lots of space and a swimming pool. There were bedrooms in the main house and also others close by in smaller buildings. The following day the other new arrivals and myself had our orientation where we were shown around the surrounding area and did a practice run of getting the dala dala, minibus, to the hospital that we would spend our time at and were also introduced to the staff in charge of the areas that we wished to work in. I was placed at the Amana Hospital and was one of the first students they had had there from Work the World but all the staff were very welcoming and extremely enthusiastic about having us with them which made it less nerve racking when returning the next day for our first full day there.
I chose to spend my time in Gynaecology/Obstetrics and General medicine. The hospital was quite crowded and had very basic equipment but the staff did their best with what they had and were always positive and did not complain which was very different from in the hospitals back home in the UK. In obstetrics there were about one hundred deliveries a day so it was very busy with babies been born one after the other and I was thrown in immediately. Due to diseases such as malaria there were quite a few still births and I found it quite difficult to adjust to how matter a fact the staff and patients were about death. In the general medical ward there were many patients with illnesses that we also have in the UK, such as heart failure, cancer and diabetes, but they were worse and often were not treated much due to the lack of supplies. There were also many patients with diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis which are not very common in the UK so this allowed me to develop knowledge and skills to nurse patients with such diseases that I may not have come across at home. My time spent in the hospital definitely was a real eye opener but it made me appreciate how lucky were are having such high quality healthcare in the UK and how important things are that you don't really realise, like risk assessments, health and safety and infection control.
I did the village experience in Zanzibar in my last week where I stayed with a local family in Makunduchi Village and had a placement in a smaller, rural hospital. This was an amazing experience as it allowed me to see how people there really live and to really get to know them. We had a fantastic guide who collected us each morning from the house and took us to the hospital where we stayed for the morning and then we met him in the afternoon when he took us to see local sites or to interact with other villagers before dropping us back with the family for dinner. The family were amazing, I have never met such warm hearted people it just took my breath away! Even though they had did not have much themselves they looked after us so well, as if we were their own children.
During the weekends there I did and saw as much as I could and the time flew by. I went to a local orphanage one weekend and did drawing and games with the children. Another weekend we went to Zanzibar where we went to the Full Moon Party, Swam with dolphins, visited Prison Island where we met giant tortoises and went to Jozani Forest to see the monkeys. I also went to a smaller island called Bongoyo Island and visited the slave area at Bagamoyo. Finally, I spent one weekend on Safari at the Mikumi Reserve which was amazing as we saw so many animals during the day and camped under millions of stars at night.
Overall, this was an amazing experience! I think I would go as far as to say it was the best thing I've ever done!! It really opened my eyes to how good we have it in the UK and I have met some amazing people and seen some beautiful places. Work the World went out of their way to make it an amazing experience and I cannot fault them and would recommend them to everyone who is considering an elective placement.