I have just returned home from my 2 week trip to Kathmandu, Nepal after completing my placement in the psychiatry department in a hospital in the city, and what an absolute pleasure it was.
Prior to selecting Nepal as my chosen destination, I researched several areas and found that Nepal had more of an awareness of the mental health system than several other developing countries.
I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to experience the difference in the attitudes towards mental health illness.
It was crazy to see how different the hospital was to the hospitals back home.
My first impression of the hospital was eye-opening. It was crazy to see how different the hospital was to the hospitals back home.
Walking into the hospital on the first day was overwhelming but after the first day, I was just so grateful to be there experiencing the cultural differences in the healthcare system. It really made me appreciate our healthcare system back in the UK.
During my first shift in the psychiatry department, I was very surprised to see that the medications they use to treat mental illness in Nepal are pretty much the same as the medications we use at home. Aripiprazole, Quetiapine, Risperidone, Sertraline...
Communicating with the patients was a challenge due to them speaking Nepali, but it was an experience to watch the staff communicating with the patients, especially during the ward rounds.
At home, the ward round takes place in a meeting room with no more than 5 or 6 members of staff and then patients are invited into the room.
In Nepal, the ward round took place around the patient’s bed, with the consultant and all of the student doctors standing around in a huge bunch.
The psychiatric ward had no age category for admission and the youngest patient that had ever been admitted into the ward was 4 years old.
During my time there, the youngest patient was 14 years old, who, back home, would have been admitted to a separate ward on the Child and Adolescent Mental Health team, not with several adults on the adult ward.
The biggest difference between the Nepal healthcare system and the UK healthcare system was the family involvement.
For a patient to be admitted into the ward in Nepal, they had to have a family member agreeable to be present at their bedside for at least 3 hours a day, and the family member is involved in all aspects of care. Whereas in the UK, patients very rarely have a family member with them on the psychiatric wards.
It was amazing to see the importance of family in the case of mental health illness.
We were on placement Monday - Friday in the psychiatry department. I also had the chance to experience the maternity ward and observe a caesarean and welcome a little baby boy into the world!
We had the weekends and evenings free to explore Nepal which was absolutely amazing!
We stayed in Kathmandu and we went to Swayambhunath (The Monkey Temple), Boudha Stoupa Temple, Buddha Park, The Garden of Dreams and Thamel.
One weekend we travelled to Chitwan to go on the jungle safari and we stayed in a room with a river view. We went canoeing, saw elephants and went in a jeep through the jungle where we saw monkeys, rhinos, wild boar, deer and alligators.
If you are contemplating undertaking your elective placement overseas, my advice would be to just go for it!! It was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had and I would go back there in a heartbeat.
I'm so so grateful to Work the World for this experience... Nepal, its been an absolute pleasure!