As an international organization operating in the globalized modern world, we recognize that Work the World has many important responsibilities and obligations, including being open and transparent about the way in which we work, and the reasons that we do the things we do.
Last year more than 1,400 students traveled with us, quoting the diversity and flexibility we offer, as well as our reputation and expertise in the field as the main reasons for their choice. We have a responsibility to deliver on the promises that we make and continually look at ways of improving our placements and the service we provide.
We can honestly say that we believe we are offering the best placements available.
All of our students should receive an heathcare placement, which meets with their expectations. It should be designed according to the interests they have expressed, their clinical skills and their level of experience. Where their expectations are impractical, or unrealistic, it is our responsibility to manage them appropriately, so that all our internship students clearly understand both their role and the limitations of these opportunities.
Equally, we follow guidelines laid out by professional and regulatory bodies to ensure our partners fully understand the limitations of healthcare students. Each of our placements includes an educational aspect, managed by a designated clinical supervisor, who will also act as the student’s main point of contact. We limit the number of people that we can accept in a destination at any one time to avoid overcrowding in the hospitals, and ensure students are prepared for their roles so that they do not burden supervisors and subsequently remove focus from patients.
When selecting accommodation for our students we always search for locations which really stand out, and where the students can comfortably live together. Large communal areas are a key consideration, as is safety and security. By having our staff onsite throughout the day we are able to ensure that the houses are never sitting empty, and in some areas we employ additional precautionary measures if we feel it may be appropriate, such as having alarms or a security presence - we want our students to feel as comfortable and safe in our houses as they would do in their own home.
We undertake to provide "all your meals" while you are away with us. This involves a breakfast and dinner every day of the working week, provided by our onsite caterers. As people return from their placements at different times, food is provided in the house for students to make their own lunch when they return. We try to give you as much of a role in choosing what sort of food we buy each week as is practical with a large group, and we will accommodate all diets that it is possible to do so in the particular destination we are in. We also provide safe drinking water.
Your families & friends...
Everyone who travels out to one of our projects leaves behind a number of people who will be worried about them and concerned for their safety. This is an inevitable consequence of overseas travel, but we believe that the steps we have taken and the service that we provide means this can be kept to a minimum.
For starters, your parents, partners and friends will know that you are going to be supported every step of the way by our overseas staff, who will guide you through each unfamiliar scenario you find yourself in and be available to help with any problems that you have. By virtue of the fact that you will be living in a shared house, they can also be assured that you will be in contact throughout the day with people who know you and are looking out for you, and this information will be fed back to our head office on a daily basis, so they can always call if they have any concerns.
The social aspect created by our Work the World communities means that any period of independent travel that you undertake after you have finished your placement is also liable to be less stressful for people back home. There is always likely to be someone who has similar travel plans and students also tend to plan weekend trips away together, so even if you are alone when you fly out to one of our destinations, you are unlikely to be alone for very long!
Our partners are the many hospitals and clinics that we work with in our destination countries. They are a vital part of our work and we have formal service agreements with all them, defining relationships which, in a number of cases, go back to Work the World’s inception! We will not allow the actions of individuals to jeopardize these relationships and will take appropriate steps if we feel they are at risk.
Part of the service agreements we have with these hospitals and clinics includes a placement fee, which we pay for each student they host. In some hospitals the fee is set, in others there is no fee and so we make a donation. We also try to honor local cultural practices and make contributions direct to the wards or specific staff when relevant and deserved. We feel it is right to do so, because we do not want to create the kind of false impression that other similar organizations are keen to perpetuate – that of the internship student being some sort of benevolent "savior". The very idea that a training student can travel over to another country and expect to be regarded as superior to experienced local professionals is potentially incredibly dangerous, but it is concept which flows through so much of the marketing that you see from organizations within similar industries today. By paying the hospital to mentor our students, we set the ground rules from the beginning.
Work the World takes the duty of care towards the patients you work with very seriously. One of the major concerns associated with healthcare students traveling to do a placement overseas, particularly in poorer countries, is that they may think that the rules concerning how much hands-on work they can do, or how much supervision they require, are somewhat laxer than they are in their domestic placements. It may even be the case that the rules are different for local students working at the same level as they are. It is critical that each student follows their own particular healthcare bodies guidelines surrounding patient rights and protection.
Work the World employs staff in seven locations, across four continents. We have developed a comprehensive, multistage recruitment process which ensures that we select the right person for every job, and they are rewarded by better standards of pay, employee rights and annual leave entitlement than they might otherwise expect from a similar job in the same destination. We believe this is very important. So many organizations in our field seem to see the fact that they are working in poorer countries – particularly those in Africa and Asia – as a chance to reduce costs to an absolute minimum. We see this as exploitation, pure and simple. Furthermore it also works against the idea of providing a quality service, because you end up with unskilled, poorly motivated staff.
We want our staff to be the best, and we believe that they are. We want them to feel part of a team, which is why we employ them directly, and provide them with opportunities to expand their roles into other areas if they are willing to do so. We want them to feel secure in their jobs, which is another reason why we place such strict limits on the numbers we have in each destination; we do not want to create a situation where we have to take on additional staff at busy times, only to have to lay them off when that period ends. We have seen this happen while working in other organizations and what it means is that if you are joining a project during the summer vacation you simply end up with lots of overcrowded destinations, run by staff ill-equipped to cope. Work the World staff know that they have a permanent, fully supported job, and that is reflected in the work that they do.
The communities we work in...
When we set up in a destination we have an impact on the local area. It is our aim to make this as positive as we can. We bring employment, and endeavor to maximize this by taking on local people for all staffing positions, wherever it is possible to do so. We also put a significant amount of money into the local economy, both through the cost of the upkeep of our houses and the money which our students spend while away.
By placing students in hospitals we are also supporting the local healthcare services. The fees that we pay for our students enable the hospitals and clinics to buy equipment and resources, and we often make additional contributions to our poorest partner institutions, on an "ad hoc" basis.
Working in overseas destinations is obviously going to lead to a fair amount of air-travel. When we consider the size of our carbon footprint, we console ourselves with the fact that a great deal of the people doing our placements would be traveling overseas even if they hadn’t chosen to do so with Work the World.
And then we simply do the best that we can. We use public transport instead of private cars. We recycle and use energy-saving light bulbs where it is possible to do so, and don’t make use of inefficient gadgets such as those wasteful conveyor-belt toasters that you often find in hotels. In addition to this we keep our own overseas travel to an absolute minimum, by employing high quality local staff that do not need hand-holding or for our UK staff to be constantly flying over to help.