I spent my two-week physiotherapy placement in the medical rehabilitation department of a university hospital in Iloilo, the Philippines.
It was honestly the best experience I’ve ever had.
I went on this adventure with my friend and classmate Lina, and I’m super grateful for having experienced this with her.
I got to experience a great new culture, new insights into clinical practise, and made amazing new friends from all over the world.
The experience really contributed to me becoming a better physiotherapist, and it broadened my scope in how to handle different kinds of cases.
The staff at the Work the World house were great people who were always there to help. Also, the food the catering team prepared was delicious!
The next day, we took a tour around Iloilo and saw a lot of the local community. The Work the World team explained how the public transportation system worked.
This was very helpful, because we took jeepney’s (a modified Jeep that can carry passengers) to the hospital.
At the house we had language lessons once a week. I really recommend putting effort into these lessons. Your patients will really appreciate you trying to speak to them in their own language — even if it’s just a few words.
That said, patients typically had a high level of English anyway, so it wasn’t hard at all to communicate.
The people of Iloilo were honestly the kindest people I’ve ever met. They were always there to help and always polite.
The hospital staff and local students were great to us. They really tried to involve us with their patients.
We even went to a Zumba class with our supervisor at the clinic. After, she invited us to her home for some food — it was one of the most fun nights we had!
As a physiotherapist you can expect to see a lot during your placement.
You can visit the paediatric department, all the different wards, and every Thursday is OR-day.
Here, you can spend the whole day attending surgeries, which vary from broken legs to appendix removal.
Time in the OR made a real impression on me, and I really appreciated that we were allowed to observe all these surgeries. It gave me a better picture of what patients had been through before starting rehabilitation with us.
It was interesting to see that surgical procedures were similar to how surgeries were done back home. However, the following rehabilitation was completely different from our practises in the Netherlands.
For example, during our placement they used a lot of passive treatments, such as TENS, ultrasound and passive mobilisation. By contrast, in the Netherlands we focus more on active ways to treat a patients.
Observing these differences are what makes this placement so valuable — it pulls you out of your comfort zone. We got introduced to new techniques, such as a relaxation treatments with wax, which we had never seen before.
I highly recommend travelling at the weekends. There was a book at the Work the World house with tips from former students who had stayed there. This helped us a lot in planning our trips.
The Work the World team was always at the house. Whenever we had questions concerning travelling, or if there was something related to our placements the team were always there to help.
The island has some beautiful places to travel to. For example Antique, Islas des Gigantes and Guimaras Island. My housemates travelled to all of these places, but there is a lot more to see than that. So, use your free time to discover the beauty the island offers!
The placement taught me to take more into consideration than just the things we learn at university.
It taught me how to be creative with limited supplies and to be grateful for what you have.
If you have the opportunity to do a placement here, please do. It will be a truly valuable experience that will teach you not only clinical lessons, but also about a culture full of love, kindness and fun.