James Cook University 2015

Medical, Nepal Kathmandu

KATHMANDU During my sixth year at JCU, I was lucky enough to complete my eight week elective in Kathmandu with Work the World (WTW). Not only was I eager to experience Nepal itself, but I travelled to Kathmandu with a high interest in paediatrics and surgery.   

Like previous JCU students before us, my friends and I travelled with WTW due to convenience and reputation. For us, elective organisation took place in fifth year, where time is of the essence and planning for sixth-year holidays was not our biggest priority with looming exams. WTW organised everything and even helped with a bunch of paperwork. For the entire duration of my stay, I had amazing food, safe accommodation, transport and great support from the local staff all taken care of for me.

In planning my overseas elective, the biggest consideration for me was where to go. I’d completed a lot of clinical placements already, but I felt an elective was different. You’re not just in another Australian hospital, where you’ve largely seen and done everything before. It’s an experience and a chance to see a kind of medicine that doesn’t exist in Australia, working with doctors who have amazing skills developed from a system that doesn’t really teach them as best it could.

My friends and I decided we wanted to adventure somewhere picturesque, somewhere we hadn’t really been before with plenty of crazy trekking. When it comes to scenery, Kathmandu was great and there were plenty of spiritual things to do. Over the duration of our placement, I think we visited around 40-50 temples, all unique and intricate in their own way.

You’re not just in another Australian hospital, where you’ve largely seen and done everything before. It’s an experience and a chance to see a kind of medicine that doesn’t exist in Australia, working with doctors who have amazing skills developed from a system that doesn’t really teach them as best it could." 

The house was amazing and the local staff even more so. We had booked the cheapest flight to arrive at 11pm and amongst the chaos in arrivals, WTW was there to pick us up and take us home. During our stay, they were always there to help with the day-to-day stuff, as well as any extra activities we wanted to do. Our Program Manager seemed to have a guy for everything, always with the best rates too. 

The paediatrics experience was fantastic. We saw cases that just don’t exist in Australia including weird fungal infections, lungs absolutely “chockers” with fluid and limbs that just weren’t working anymore. The local doctors were dealing with difficult cases really well and getting us out of our comfort zones. I was seeing and treating conditions that were just mind-blowing. Every day was busy, from morning till night.

Lungs absolutely chockers with fluid and limbs that just weren’t working anymore. The local doctors were dealing with difficult cases really well and getting us out of our comfort zones. I was seeing and treating conditions that were just mind-blowing."

Their system was quite interesting, patients were required to supply their own equipment and family members would arrive with plastic bags full of everything the doctor might need for the surgery or treatment. There was one particular case where a child had so much fluid in his lungs, his chest was misshapen and they were draining around a litre each day for two weeks.

Easily the best experience of my overseas elective was the village healthcare week. We travelled high into the mountains to a village of around 200 people to work in the local clinic. While it was sometimes daunting as you were dealing with some advanced cases, it was a very rewarding experience. During this week, we had the opportunity to live with a local family within the village. Each night we would sit, cross-legged, in the house to share dinner, and it is that kind of experience you can’t get anywhere else.

Overall, WTW was excellent. During our placement, the earthquake that devastated Nepal occurred. WTW were extremely supportive during this time and essentially looked after us. When the earthquake happened, we had been in the mountains hiking. As soon as we returned, they had a meal and water ready for us. Somehow they had tracked down a generator and some fuel and were running the house for us. I would definitely recommend Work the World to any student. The local staff were so amazing and helpful during this time of crisis, I cannot speak highly enough of them. 

TRAVEL

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