by Work the World

We think that one of the hardest parts of organising an elective is actually deciding where to go. Whether you’re tempted by the tribes of Africa; the mountains of Asia or the flavour of South America, wherever you decide to go, your elective overseas will no doubt enrich both your professional and personal development in a safe, supported environment.

We currently work in seven locations around the world and like to talk to students in depth about each destination before they make a decision – this way they can work out which placement is most suited to them. So the question we chose to ask the houses this week is “Why did you choose to do your placement in the destination you’re in?”

Julie in Sri Lanka had already visited Asia and “loved the cultural atmosphere. So I chose Sri Lanka over Africa. Plus I was travelling alone and I could get a direct flight to Sri Lanka”

Delano is half Sri Lankan “So I decided it was time to revisit this beautiful island and to meet more of its people. I've been to Kandy before but was curious to see its hospital and experience healthcare in Asia”, Aqilah added “I wanted to meet other students and get the chance to travel with them.”

And finally Rhiannon heard it was “a beautiful island and compact enough to travel around in a month plus for me it was the most cost effective. The combination of beaches and mountains makes me very happy!"

In Mwanza, Sarah decided on Tanzania after studying the WTW website in depth.  Our summer placements get snapped up really early, “Originally I wanted to go to Dar es Salaam but the programme was full.  After reading through the case studies I decided that Mwanza was the place to be. I wanted to experience healthcare in different setting to the UK and this placement gave the opportunity to see secondary healthcare (Bugando) and Primary rural (Bukumbi). Plus I got to do safari and visit beautiful Zanzibar.”

Cheron Li knew that she wanted to visit Mwanza from the start. “I wanted more of a rural placement and Mwanza is much smaller than Dar, also Lake Victoria looked beautiful! I had always wanted to visit Africa, go on safari and see the ‘big 5’ in real life”

Caitlin was another safari fan “Africa had been on my hitlist for a long time and I finally got to go. I wanted a healthcare experience completely different to England and after reading the case studies decided on Mwanza. It looked so pretty and we managed to tie in visits to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater”

Sheona told us “My friend Mark had already booked for Dar es Salaam so I booked too. I so wanted to visit Zanzibar!” Isabel felt the same after watching a TV programme about Africa that touched on Tanzania and it’s tropical neighbour, Zanzibar “plus I thought I would never have chance to go Tanzania any other time.”

Humza heard about our programme in Tanzania through past students. “Some friends of mine came to Tanzania with work the world 2 years ago and strongly recommended it. Since the people are so friendly and the placement is very enjoyable.”

“I chose Dar because I have always wanted to go to Tanzania and I wanted to do a surgical placement and thought that Dar would be best for this,” said Patrick. Hannah added “I read the case studies on the website and liked the sound of the hospital placements. I liked the fact that Muhimbili is attached to a University and that there would be plenty of opportunities for helping to deliver babies at Amana. Plus the swimming pool at the house really appealed to me!”

Aaron came to Nepal on his friend’s recommendation. “Two of my friends came to Nepal through Work the World last year and they insisted I go.”

Whereas Rosie had travelled to India before and said “since Nepal is a neighbouring country I figured it would be less daunting and less of a culture shock.” She did think about Africa and Argentina too but thought Nepal would be safer and the nurses from Hertfordshire felt the same. It was Becky's idea and Lisa, Alex and Adele hopped on the bandwagon. Becky told us “I had been to Africa before so Nepal was the obvious choice plus I wanted to see the famous Himalayas.” Lisa mentioned lot of her friends back home didn't even know where Nepal was “...they kept asking if I was going to Naples in Italy!”

Over in Ghana Tom reported “I knew I was going to come to Africa but my mind was not made up about exactly which country I was going to go." He wanted to go to somewhere warm and through the recommendation of a friend who had travelled across Africa he decided on Ghana. "It is safe and the people are lovely." David's reasons for choosing Ghana was on the recommendation from a medical student who visited Ghana with Work the World last summer "even as a second year student, James told me he had an excellent hands-on experience and an amazing time exploring the variety of attractions in the country." That was exactly what he wanted as a second year student.

Nat and Tiggy chose Ghana because of the language. To them communication is crucial to understanding the system and staff, “English being the official language of the nation was a definite selling point”...Joe, our Programme Manager in Ghana added “And if you love nice beaches like Eleanor, you will understand how the proximity of the WTW house to the beautiful beaches in Takoradi played a role in deciding on Ghana as her placement destination.”

Josefina, the Assistant Programme Manager in Argentina, says she always likes to ask students this same question when they arrive! “They tend to agree on two things,” she says. “Firstly, most of them have never been to South America before, so by doing their placement in Argentina they see a perfect opportunity to come visit and get to know a lot more about the South American culture, sights and traditions.  They usually come to Argentina to do their placement and then travel to other countries such as Chile, Brazil, Uruguay and Peru (Machu Picchu is a must stop!). And, secondly, they all want to improve their Spanish, regardless of their level of skill, and think that travelling to a Spanish-speaking country is the best way of doing it.”

This is what happened to Lucy, a medical student from Wales who is visiting Argentina for the second time. “I first came to Mendoza three years ago and absolutely loved it but spoke almost no Spanish at that time. Ever since then, I’ve been studying the language and now that I’ve become quite good at it I thought it was the perfect time to come and put it into practice”. So far, Lucy’s Spanish has improved dramatically. She is now able to make her way around with ease and speaks Spanish 24 hours a day!

If you ever have any questions about the destinations and what is on offer just give us a call and we’ll be happy to chat through your options.

Often students tell us of rare and tropical diseases that they’ve only read about in the past.  Whether it be the treatment of patients, unseen diseases or progressed pathologies, an overseas placement is both fascinating and a great learning environment. We have asked this question a few times but we always get some really interesting answers... What has been your clinical highlight this week?

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