I carried out my nursing elective placement in Iloilo, The Philippines for 2 weeks. When looking for a destination to do my elective placement, The Philippines stood out to me.
I chose Iloilo as it was a place that I didn’t see myself visiting for a holiday, but I had heard great things about it.
I was also interested in learning about the culture and lifestyle of the Filipino people after reading other Work the World reviews.
I spent my 2 weeks in paediatric departments throughout the hospital, splitting my time between the paediatric ward, paediatric ER, oncology, NICU and the delivery room. This meant that I was able to observe a variety of things, including cases that we wouldn’t see back home, for example, dengue fever.
I went into the placement with an open mind which was beneficial, as nothing could prepare me for what I witnessed.
The corridors were lined with people as the wards were full, with up to 4 patients sharing a single bed. The hospital had a policy where no one could be turned away and refused treatment, whether they had the money to pay for it or not.
the Filipino nurses sometimes had more than 50 patients under a single nurse’s care.
During my time there, the hospital treated more than double its capacity. In the UK, the average nurse to patient ratio is 1:6, however, the Filipino nurses sometimes had more than 50 patients under a single nurse’s care.
In the UK, there is a big emphasis on individualised holistic care. However, when you have a 1:50 ratio, like in Iloilo, you can see how this is just not possible, so clinical work was prioritised.
While on the wards, I was able to get involved in care that I felt comfortable with, such as medicine rounds, feeding neonates and general interaction with patients and their families.
On my second shift on the paediatric ward, I witnessed my first death. It was a 10-month-old who had congenital heart disease and hospital-acquired pneumonia.
CPR was done very differently to how we are taught in the UK, which was hard to watch at first, but I took a step back and remembered that I wasn’t there to change anything and I respected how things were done.
The time off I had was spent exploring The Philippines with other people from the Work the World house.
We would spend our free time going to local resorts where we could use the swimming pools, visiting the mall and surrounding markets, and going for food in the local restaurants.
Every Thursday was BBQ night where the house would gather for karaoke. This was a brilliant opportunity to have fun and get to know everyone better.
At the weekend a group of us travelled to Antique, where we rode on motorbikes through the mountains and hiked to beautiful waterfalls. On return to the accommodation where we were staying, we went extreme river tubing, had full-body massages and were cooked alive in a Kawa hot bath.
On the final weekend, we went to Guimaras which is a 15-minute boat ride from Iloilo. We spent our time island hopping and visiting the caves and surrounding beaches before enjoying a drink in the floating café.
If anyone were to ask me if they should do an overseas placement, I would tell them to go and book it right now. You don’t want to miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The experience I had will stay with me forever and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. It was an eye-opening experience that has made me even more grateful for the facilities and resources that we have in the NHS.