My university offers a 4-week child nursing elective period in the second year of study. I decided to go overseas to Tanzania as I wanted to experience different cultures and gain more experience.
Work the World was recommended by my university, and after doing my own research I decided to book through them. Work the World was excellent at organising the placement, and in the lead-up to beginning the placement, all of my questions were promptly answered. I spent 4 weeks in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and it was the best experience of my life!
The weekdays would be spent in the hospital and we had the evenings and weekends free to explore the city.
I travelled with my friend, but we were still very nervous and weren’t sure what to expect. Nevertheless, when we arrived at Dar es Salaam airport, we were greeted by the WtW team with a much-needed hug!
We had a city tour so that we could take out money and buy local sim cards, and then we went on a hospital orientation where we learnt more about the different units and tried to learn our way around.
I mainly spent my 4 weeks rotating around PICU, burns unit, oncology and paediatric theatres, but I was also able to spend time watching c-sections and in A&E.
I spent one week in the paediatric burns unit which was eye-opening. It was particularly difficult to see the children in so much pain, and the lack of pain relief compared to what we would use in the UK, but the staff were quick to explain why this was - I found out that a lot of people in Tanzania viewed pain as a sign of weakness, which I found difficult to comprehend.
One day, I was able to observe and assist with wound dressings. There was one child who had burns all over their chest. As we undressed the wound, I noticed it had become infected and looked so painful. It was really difficult to watch but it was a good learning experience, finding out how burns are dressed and cared for.
Another difference I noticed in PICU, was that the parents didn't spend much time visiting their children, whereas in the UK most parents stay with their children. However, a nurse explained to me that this was because a lot of parents have to work or have other children at home, and just could not afford to wait in the hospital, especially as they were paying for the healthcare. This made me reflect on how lucky we are at home with the NHS.
I found the staff to be helpful if you introduced yourself, the more you gave the more you got back.
The ward rounds with the doctors were probably the most interesting thing to get involved with as they generally spoke in English and were equally as eager to learn about healthcare in the UK.
The in-country Work the World team were fabulous! The management team had our placements organised and always checked in on us to make sure we were having a good experience. One week I decided I wanted to move units and they were quick to organise this for me.
The team had the answers to everything and helped point us in the right direction to organise our various trips and activities. We also attend the regular Swahili language lessons in the house. The chefs were also very accommodating to any dietary requirements.
In the afternoons and on the weekends, we were free to do whatever we wanted to. One evening we watched a football match, supporting the Tanzanian team Simba – it was an experience! We also went on bike tours, went to lovely beaches, an incredible safari and of course we went over to Zanzibar for a weekend.
I honestly couldn’t recommend going to Tanzania more, I made some amazing memories and I had a fabulous time!