I spent 6 weeks on a nursing elective placement in Tanzania and had the most incredible time.
I had an elective option as part of my degree and I’ve always been keen to travel, especially to an African country. I wanted to explore another healthcare system, so when this opportunity came about I jumped at the chance to go to Tanzania.
I travelled here solo and felt very safe, and looked after in such a friendly environment.
When I first arrived at the hospital I was so surprised by the size of it — it was huge. There were so many people everywhere with lots of patients in the corridors.
It was immediately apparent they didn’t have anywhere near as many resources as we do at home. The hospital was hot, and at times dark with no well-lit corridors like we have at home.
The hospital placement was well established and you have the freedom to explore so many departments in the hospital.
I am just heading into my second year at university so don’t yet have a speciality as such, so I rotated through what felt like most departments — internal medicine, surgery, OBG, maternity, paediatrics to name but a few.
It was so good to be able to explore different parts of the hospital, it has given me a much better overview of a whole hospital that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do in the UK. Having the opportunity to see how each department runs, the costs associated with different departments was really interesting too.
One case that stands out for me was a patient in ICU who had an abscess in his jaw. There was no pain relief which I found quite shocking.
I saw another patient who you would have thought looked 6-months pregnant but it was actually a tumour. Even the staff said they had not seen anything like that before. You’d never get a patient in the UK presenting with such an advanced case.
Patients tended to put things off for as long as possible as they didn’t have the funds for treatment. Culturally a lot of people tend to try herbal medicines first, probably because it’s more traditional but also because it is much more affordable.
Healthcare in Tanzania is costly and limited. It was such an eye-opening experience to see the culture and differences compared to that in the UK. We are so lucky to have the NHS and it has made me all the more grateful for what I have.
The team there was so lovely. I have never met such kind, vibrant and fun people who are always there for help and support whenever it is needed. We had so much fun dancing on BBQ nights and also for birthday celebrations.
There was so much to do near the house in Masaki after placement. The house has a lovely pool so we spent a lot of time relaxing in the sun too.
At weekends it was time to explore with my new housemates. I went to Zanzibar where we swam with dolphins. We also went to Prison Island which was incredible and explored the stunning beaches.
I also went on safari which was so much fun. There are also a couple of islands nearby which you can go to on day trips which are beautiful.
To anyone considering going overseas for a nursing placement I would say just do it. I was nervous, I’m not going to lie. But living with other healthcare students in the Work the World house, having a reality well-organised hospital placement was an incredible experience. Everyone is in the same boat, everyone has the same interests, it is something not to be missed.
I had the best time and highly recommend using Work the World to book your elective placement. I met so many amazing people and have memories I will cherish for the rest of my life.