During my second year of my Bachelor of Nursing at La Trobe University, I decided to choose my elective subject through Work the World. This was a two-week nursing placement in Kathmandu, Nepal.
I chose to go to Kathmandu mainly because I was ecstatic to get a chance to discover a city that I’d heard amazing things about and I wanted to experience the culture. Also, I thought I would be able to handle the monsoon weather since I grew up in The Philippines – heads up guys, I was wrong!
I was able to pick the departments I wanted to experience beforehand. In my case, the emergency department was my goal, so I put it as my only preference.
My first day was a bit daunting being surrounded by people who were speaking a different language. The environment was fast-paced and there were people who were intrigued by me because I stood out based on the fact that I was wearing a different uniform. I felt overwhelmed because I wasn’t sure how useful I would be to anybody.
I felt more comfortable when more staff approached me to introduce themselves and asked who I was. It wasn’t only the nursing staff, there were also assistants and doctors who spoke to me and translated what the patients were trying to say.
I already knew beforehand that the standards would be different in Nepal compared to Australia. But, having experienced public healthcare in a country town in The Philippines, I was open to what I would see. Others experienced culture shock but I was more at ease with the differences in the hospital environment and culture.
The emergency department at the hospital was separated into three areas. I assumed the red emergency area was going to be chaotic and insane but to my surprise, it wasn’t as busy as a public emergency room here in Australia! I wondered why that was, but I could still recognise the impact of the population in Kathmandu – there were fewer people in the red zone, but patients were sharing beds in the green and yellow zones.
The experience that I valued the most during my placement was being in the OB-GYN ward, specifically in the labour ward.
I was able to observe a C-section, a memory that I will cherish forever and I’m glad to have been present at that moment! The nurses gave me a tour of the ward and all the equipment used in the procedure.
The skills of these women were amazing to watch in action.
They showed me a room dedicated to patients who were HIV positive. It was scary and exciting watching the nurses perform procedures with such ease and comfort. The skills of these women were amazing to watch in action.
The biggest impact this placement had on me was being able to acknowledge and recognise the difference in practices, resources and cultures. I know how easy it can be to forget how limited resources are in other countries.
My placement through Work the World was unforgettable.
I think everyone should use opportunities like this to gain experiences out of their comfort zone. One day when we’re all qualified, and living our lives with the career paths we chose, we can look back and reflect on the remarkable things we were able to experience by travelling the world!