I found out about Work the World through a fellow student who had previously travelled with them. She couldn’t recommend Work the World enough.
After hearing about the amazing experiences she had, both medical and extra-curricular, my soon-to-be travel companion and I were sold.
Sadly, six months before departure, our chosen destination was no longer available.
Lucky for us that was one of the best things that could have happened as we ended up in Iloilo, the Philippines!
Work the World tailors placements based on your interests. At the time, I had a strong interest in both family medicine and OBG. I spent time in both.
The Work the World team also recommended I spend time in other specialities. I branched out into general medicine, paediatrics and surgery.
At the time, I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy such variety. Looking back, it gave me a much broader experience.
I learned so much more about medicine and culture within the Philippines than I would have otherwise.
the hospital environment is immediately different
Patients in the Philippines are managed very differently to the UK.
First of all, there’s no NHS.
The governmental equivalent of NHS within the Philippines only covers certain patients.
Those who do not qualify for cover either take out private health insurance if they can afford it, or pay for their treatment up front.
Once you’re past the door, the hospital environment is immediately different.
Resources are limited here, which is a massive problem. Gloves are not readily available and it’s difficult to sterilise instruments.
Pregnant mothers take turns to have foetal monitoring, and pain medication is not commonly used.
issues could be avoided if more monitoring during labour was possible
For me, one of the hardest things to watch was labouring mothers. They often had complications and struggled on with no pain relief.
Even in these situations there was only one CTG monitor. This meant difficult labours were unmonitored for significant periods of time.
More often than not, this resulted in instrumental delivery for baby and an episiotomy for mum.
In some cases it resulted in postnatal complications including meconium aspiration.
It was difficult to accept, as these issues could be avoided if more monitoring during labour was possible.
Around three weeks prior to departure, a friend from university contacted me to say both her and another friend were going to the Philippines at the same time as my friend and I.
Before we knew what was happening, the four of us from Dundee got on like a house on fire.
We found out that our fellow housemates thought we were ‘besties’. We barely knew each other before Iloilo!
As the weeks flew by, we gained many more friends. We had amazing weekend trips away, and made memories that will last a lifetime!
We swam with whale sharks and in waterfalls, and topped it all off by canyoneering!
Weekend trips were the highlight of our time in Iloilo.
My three friends and I planned a trip on each of our weekends. Of course, we invited our new housemates along too.
We visited: Guimaras Island, Lakawon Island, Boracay, Palawan, Antique and Cebu.
My favourites were Antique and Cebu. In Antique we went tubing, motor biking, got ‘boiled alive’ in a special hot tub, and visited Seco Island.
Cebu was even more amazing. We swam with whale sharks and in waterfalls, and topped it all off by canyoneering!
One thing that will always stick with me is the atmosphere in the house. It's not just the people living there, but the Work the World staff too!
The catering team were amazing. The mango float they made was a sure winner. Make sure you get some at the weekly BBQ night!
Advice if you’re considering an elective with Work the World
If you don’t go with Work the World you’re crazy. They are incredibly efficient and organised and makes your elective entirely stress free!
Don’t overload your suitcase with medical equipment — there are masks and gloves and crocs in the Iloilo house.
Enjoy yourself! Don’t think about FY1 as it all comes around so fast and really is not as bad as it appears!