My friend Poppy and I had four weeks to do an elective placement. We decided to go abroad for this because we didn’t know when we would have another opportunity and thought it would be a great chance to learn and travel.
We were very open as to where we would go. We chose Zambia because we liked the look of the city, Lusaka, and the opportunity to go on safari! The hospital also had a variety of interesting departments such as malnutrition, oncology and emergency.
When we arrived in Zambia, the Work the World team took us around the hospital and showed us the departments we would be in for our first week of placement. The hospital was a lot bigger than I expected and very busy. I was nervous about meeting the hospital staff and there being language barriers. However, they all seemed friendly and most spoke good English. Although, it does help to know some Nyanja which you will have lessons for whilst staying in the Work the World house.
What I first noticed in the hospital was the lack of resources and equipment. They only had one observation machine for the ward (about 20+ beds) and sometimes no working sats monitors. All the beds are very close together and there was rarely a curtain for privacy. Some wards had an isolation room, but most of them didn’t. They don’t do the same safety checks that we would do in the UK. They don’t have crash bells or call bells. Parents of patients do the majority of the care as there aren’t enough nurses.
I had the chance to learn about their culture and religions and how these impact the care given in hospitals.
The nurses were welcoming and very interested to hear about our healthcare system in the UK. I had the chance to learn about their culture and religions and how these impact the care given in hospitals. My advice would be to go in and be friendly and willing to learn, it definitely helps. I learnt that the main reason there are so many malnourished or sick children is due to the lack of health education for parents and primary services. I had the opportunity to learn how they look after and treat children with malnutrition.
On the oncology ward I had the chance to look after a young boy with an Osteosarcoma and due to the extent of the cancer, was on palliative care. I got to know the family and the path of chemotherapy he was on. I also got to assist with wound care.
Most days after placement we would relax by the pool at the Work the World house and have a swim as it gets very hot! Sometimes we would walk to the malls to get some food and drink. We got on well with everyone in the house and planned things to do together. We went to the cinema and also found a fun painting class called “paint and sip”.
The house has a variety of booklets and links to activities you can do. One weekend we took a trip away to Livingstone and stayed in a hostel. We arranged to go and see Victoria Falls and booked a safari day in Botswana which is something definitely worth doing! On another weekend we went to Kafue River and took a boat ride, there is a cafe and pool there as well. We also had a few evenings out for dinner and went to some local bars.
it’s a great opportunity to travel, meet new people and expand your knowledge.
I’m so glad I did an overseas placement as it’s a great opportunity to travel, meet new people and expand your knowledge. I was nervous at first about travelling and doing a placement in a new environment. However, the Work the World team make you feel comfortable and are very organised which takes the pressure off! Everyone is friendly and will give you all the advice and information you need. I settled a lot quicker than I thought I would and you eventually get into a good routine. It helped to go with a friend for the support!
Overall, if you're thinking about doing an overseas placement it’s a great experience and I would 100% recommend it!