Having completed all of my medical school placements in Australia, I was very keen to undertake my final year elective overseas with the goal of learning about other cultures and healthcare systems and gaining new experiences both clinically and personally.
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to travel to West Africa. The culture, history and landscapes, along with the “off the beaten track” adventure style it entails, has always felt very alluring to me. Thus, I was led to Ghana, a country, by other’s accounts, that is very peaceful and welcoming.
In arranging my placement, I found Work the World to be beyond helpful. They scheduled regular phone calls to tailor my elective to meet mine and my medical school’s needs and to address any questions I may have had. They ensured the preparation for my overseas trip and elective was completely seamless and provided me with all of the resources I needed for my university requirements. Thanks to Work the World, I felt very prepared for my overseas elective when the time finally came.
A major reason for wanting to undertake my placement overseas was to experience a different healthcare system to that in Australia and to develop my understanding of illnesses less prevalent in Australia.
In Takoradi, accident and emergency was much smaller, but busier than I have experienced in my home country. There were significantly more patients per doctor and many of the resources we take for granted in Australia were unavailable, meaning clinical knowledge and examination was favoured in diagnosis over extensive laboratory testing and scans. Some of the most common presentations were road traffic accidents, malaria, HIV related illnesses and cerebrovascular accidents.
A major difference I noticed while in Takoradi was the requirement for patients to pay for any resources that were used such as cannulas, catheters and oxygen. Consequently, patients typically presented late in the course of illness due to significant costs associated with healthcare and hospitalisation, and patient’s who were uninsured and could not afford the medical care would not be treated.
Over the 5 weeks I was in Takoradi, I became more and more at home and was able to immerse myself in my surroundings. I went to a work Fufu party (Fufu is a staple food common in Ghana, made from boiled and ground plantain or cassava), hung out with other local doctors and nurses and made fantastic friends with other staff and students. The Work the World house was a great base and I thoroughly enjoyed the BBQ nights, dancing to “Waist and Power” with the Work the World staff and all the friends I made there.
If I had to choose one thing about my experience that will stick in my mind forever, it would be the wonderful people I met while in Ghana.
In my free time, I enjoyed the opportunity to take weekend trips with my housemates to Cape Coast to see the Cape Coast Castle and Kakum National Park and to Mole National Park in the north, stopping at Kumasi and Kintampo along the way. Exploring Takoradi was also a great way to fill my afternoons.
If I had to choose one thing about my experience that will stick in my mind forever, it would be the wonderful people I met while in Ghana. Getting to know the wonderful local doctors, nurses and students along with all of the Work the World staff made the experience amazing and something I will never forget.
Overall, my time in Ghana was everything I had hoped for and more. The clinical, cultural and personal experiences I had during my time there will never be forgotten and I hope to return again very soon.