I chose Work the World after taking a look at the website and studying the contents. It seemed like a trustworthy organization and the only organization that I know of that helps students in arranging a worthwhile elective in third world countries.
The assistance before the trip was astonishing. No matter how much I talk about the way everything was so organised, it won't suffice. We were constantly updated, whether by phone or email. We were worried at first after a typhoon had hit the Philippines a couple of months before our arrival, but not after receiving a call from the organisers.
As soon as we arrived at Iloilo's airport, we saw Mishie and April (the Work the World programme managers) waiting for us. They were very sweet and our first impression of the staff was very positive. We had an orientation where we were introduced to the staff again, and we also had a tour of the house before being assigned to our bedrooms and meeting our new roommates. The orientation was about the general regulations and how things would work as we oriented ourselves within our new surroundings in the city of Iloilo.
We lived in a house with 4 bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, second floor, and a rooftop. Each room had about 2 to 3 bunk beds. We all had breakfast and lunch together at the dinner table, and that was one of the most interesting parts of our day because we got to know each other more. We all shared the experiences while having our meals and spoke about our countries and cultures.
The way she treated her patients was beyond words.
As for my hospital placement, I chose internal medicine. Dr. Toledo was in charge of my colleagues and I. She was a very sweet, caring, passionate, and a smart doctor. She taught us a lot, academically and socially. The way she treated her patients was beyond words. They all loved her. We could tell because she gave them more than just medical care. We also got to meet the nursing staff, along with Alvin, who were so energetic and passionate about their job.
We got to do a lot of hands-on procedures, such as IV cannula insertions, nasogastric tube insertions, and injecting medications. Most of the patients were helpful and understanding and we didn’t face any problems when it came to asking permission from the patients. I also got to see a variety of medical cases that are not common in our region, such as Tetanus.
I also got to meet the Hospital Chief and the Training Officer, Ms. Stella, who were very happy to meet us.
Relaxing and having fun is another part of our trip to Iloilo. During the weekend we went to Boracay Island. We rented a van for 5 hours and then took a boat to the island. It has one of the most beautiful beaches in the world! We did a lot of water activities, such as snorkeling and riding the fly fish. They have a variety of restaurants and an outdoor mall. The nightlife was amazing! You’ll know what I mean if you join this elective destination as I did.
seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
My advice for future students is to seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, because you will learn and have fun at the same time. Rather than just being about learning things related to your field, it is also about learning new interesting things from the people that you will meet. I have learnt to be a more giving person. Give and do not expect anything in return, because seeing the patient satisfied will be more than enough. This applies to everyone, and not only doctors. I have also learnt the true essence of family members. When you go to the Philippines, you will see that you won't find a patient without a family member sitting by their side all the time.
I think that this is one of the best experiences that I have had in my life because it integrated a lot of aspects all at once. And finally, don't forget to take lots and lots of photos!