I would like to begin by saying that my elective placement to Ghana was an experience I will never forget, and when it came to the day to leave I wanted to stay for another month. The people that I met and the places a visited made this trip so memorable and also life changing.
Why I Chose WTW Ghana
My School of Nursing recommended traveling with WTW as previous students had done so and had good experiences with the company. Emma (my housemate I was travelling with) and I had never been travelling before and so we felt safer going with a company who organised everything. This meant that there would always be someone to help and advise you in the UK as well as in Ghana which we wanted. It also made the planning process less stressful, and we felt we got the most out of this. In the UK the staff were very helpful and proactive, answering any of our ridiculous questions.
The fear of the unknown was my main reason for being nervous on travelling to and arriving in Accra. The airport was very busy and quite daunting, however as soon as we saw Ezekiel’s smiling face all our worries vanished. After waiting for another traveller we were whisked to a hotel for much wanted sleep with A/C!! The next day we took the 4 hour bus ride to Takoradi. Ezekiel was so friendly and helpful it put us all at ease and we all felt safe.
The staff at the house in Ghana were so friendly, welcoming and accommodating; there were no faults or complaints. They made our experience. Ezekiel was in charge of ensuring we knew our way around Takoradi and where we would find the best deals, he also helped us to organise travelling over the weekends and was full of advice and knowledge. Thursday nights were the best…BBQ night. Delicious food, music and dancing with the staff, my face always hurt from smiling so much. Joseph and Ezekiel have some moves!
My placement in Ghana consisted of two weeks working in Casualty and two weeks on the Male Orthopaedic ward. The Casualty ward was very eye opening and it was difficult to not compare it to back home as many of the things we take for granted. The simplest of things such as BM machine was much sought after.
Casualty had many different and interesting cases, from patients with Malaria to RTA’s. As a student nurse I mainly got involved with the triage which was run by other student nurses on the ward. This involved basic vitals (manual BP – I became an expert) and a description of the issue, which I often needed help with when they couldn’t speak English. I also spent a few days with the doctors to see how they would treat patients, which I found interesting. There was also a basic operating theatre where stitches were done. The staff and students were very interested in the difference to the UK and many wanted to travel there.
My second placement was on the Male Orthopaedic ward. The difference in care was ever apparent, but not unexpected in a developing country. The day consisted of a ward round with the doctor, which was the best way to find out about the patients and the treatments given. Many of the patients were involved in RTA’s. This was then followed with daily dressings of every wound in the ward, which you can take part in. I also opted to go to theatre for a few days, which was also very interesting as the doctors would take the time to explain what they were doing. My main advice would be to ask the doctors questions about the treatment they provide as it is often different to that of the UK. Some of the techniques are very useful and resourceful.
What to take with you
I took aprons, gloves and alcohol gel with me. However I felt that other equipment is needed with higher priority. On casualty the BM machine and sticks were like gold dust, so if you could take one of these with some sticks they would be so grateful. Also the BP machines are quite old and so they would benefit from a new one of those. They do no use aprons out there, so if you take some, they will probably be left on the side. They do benefit from the alcohol gel and gloves but they do usually have them on the ward. They charge patients for every pair of gloves you use on them so I tended to use my own as I didn’t feel comfortable with it.
Travelling Around Ghana
When we weren’t working we tried to spend as much time as we could enjoying Ghana. Most afternoons we would travel to a local hotel which had a swimming pool, which was a great place to enjoy the sun and relax. When we were there we felt like we could be anywhere in the world and the stresses of the morning could be forgotten. We also travelled around the region including a trip to Kakum National Park, Cape Coast, Axim, the stilt village and green turtle lodge. I would recommend every single one of these trips - I could talk for ages about them, but you will get the opportunity to do so when your there and discuss this with Ezekiel! All I can say is each trip we took was breath-taking, and so memorable.
In our last week we also visited an orphanage as Emma and I had brought some toys with us. It was a really enjoyable afternoon and so nice to see the smile on the children’s faces. The sunglasses from Primark were a hit.
I couldn’t have asked more from the trip. The staff were so helpful and they really helped me make the most of my elective placement. Ghana is such a beautiful place, the locals were so friendly, and I learnt so much from the wards. If I could go back I would!