You’ve chosen your destination, endured the vaccinations and have bought your local pharmacy out of insect repellent. Now you’re standing in the wards of an unfamiliar hospital with an unfamiliar healthcare system, wondering where to start.
To make sure you gain the most from your overseas experience, it’s vital you intentionally prepare for your clinical placement. We’ve selected the top points you need to bear in mind to gain skills and experience overseas, and most of all, leave feeling that your placement was really worth it.
1.Know your goals
Knowing exactly what you want to learn on your placement is vital. Do you want to gain insight into community healthcare in Ghana? Learn more about rural herbal medicine in The Philippines? While our team of elective experts can tailor your placement to this level of specificity, the motivation has to come from you. Going with a clear aim and the ambition to make it happen will mean you’re much more likely to engage with these opportunities when they arise.
2. Be Proactive
We’re not suggesting you change your personality, but it is important to appear proactive and motivated. Quietness and a blank face could be mistaken for disinterest, meaning hospital staff will be less likely to interact with you and offer up new and exciting clinical knowledge and opportunities for practical learning.
Going the extra mile to build relationships with hospital staff will seriously pay off. Taking on some extra shifts and persisting through difficult days on the ward will open doors and deepen your understanding of both your destination and area of expertise.
Another excellent way to do this is to…
Being the intelligent and curious individual that you are, chances are this will come easily. Asking your supervisor questions is a sure way to initiate more involvement, especially within specific departments. One simple question could lead to observing a complex procedure, or even supervised hands-on experiencing diagnosing and treating a rare ailment.
4.Learn the Language
Being able to engage with both patients and professionals in their mother tongue will really show your passion for the destination and people who live there. Not only will this build your relationship with patients, but it won’t go unnoticed by your supervisors either, many of who will respond to the level of enthusiasm you show.
If the thought of mastering a new language in a handful of months makes you break out in a sweat, fear not! Our selection of online language videos with simple greetings, phrases and clinical terminology will prepare you in the basics. In addition to that, we also provide free local language lessons, which take place twice a week in our Work the World houses overseas in all destinations.
Whilst English is still a national language in most of our destinations, it is less familiar in others - such as Mexico. Should you take your placement here, we also offer an intensive Spanish course, which includes clinical role play and one-to-one tutoring.
5. Stay Positive
Engaging with developing healthcare isn’t always going to be easy, but don’t let this dilute your motivation. Persevering with your team, supervisors and patients will make for a much more rewarding experience, both personally and professionally.
Our team of elective experts are always on hand to answer any enquiries or questions about your placement, and work hard to tailor-make the experience to fit your ambitions and interests. For clinical stories directly from those who have previously travelled with us, you can read their Case Studies here.