Work the World made preparing for my trip to the Philippines simple. Their team called me regularly to discuss the logistics, planning and organization of the trip in the run up to my departure.
MyTrip (Work the World’s online placement planner) offered an interactive preparation itinerary that detailed my accommodation and hospital placement. It also had a checklist including deadlines that ensured I completed everything on time.
Work the World made preparing for my trip simple. I found it easy to meet deadlines alongside my medical school studies.
My placement hospital provided free healthcare to patients unable to afford it. The majority of patients presented with advanced conditions due to their lack of finances and health-related education.
The hospital had all the departments you’d find in a U.S. hospital, but lacked resources. In spite of this deficit, physicians were adept at diagnosing and treating conditions with minimal assistance and supplies. They provided the basic services necessary to give patients the best possible quality of life.
As I was interested in orthopedic surgery, I was hoping to shadow extensively in the operating room and perhaps scrub into a couple procedures if invited by the physicians.
The hospital placement far exceeded my expectations.
I scrubbed into a multitude of orthopedic procedures, daily. In addition to enhancing my surgical skills and experience, I was challenged to push past my boundaries by asking questions and interacting with unfamiliar physicians practicing surgical methods different from what I’d seen in the U.S.
After this experience, I felt completely comfortable involving myself in procedures and asking for explanations when I didn’t understand.
I spent the majority of my time in the OR but dedicated a couple of days to the ER and OPD. On a typical day in the OR, I arrived in the morning at about 8am, changed into my scrubs and found the room dedicated to that day’s orthopedic surgeries.
Depending on the surgeries, I scrubbed in or shadowed until late afternoon before heading back to the Work the World house.
When in the ER and the OPD, I got involved in reading X-rays, assisting in reducing fractures and casting patients, and learning from other procedures performed by the orthopedists.
The language spoken in Iloilo, the Philippines is Hiligaynon. Thanks to the clinical language guide and language videos the Work the World created and supplied, I practiced basic phrases and communication in advance of my trip.
It was helpful to have a grasp of some of the basic words and phrases of Hiligaynon as it allowed me to connect with, and learn from, others more quickly. All of the healthcare professionals I encountered in Iloilo spoke English well, and the majority of the patients had a proficient grasp of English.
That said, demonstrating an effort to speak the native language assisted in developing a deeper rapport with both colleagues and patients.
My placement involved many experiences and opportunities that exceeded my expectations. But the relationship I formed with the orthopedic team was the most rewarding part of my trip.
They were a group of extremely talented residents who gave me a warm welcome on my first day. I bonded with them easily.
They were eager to involve me, and I found myself comfortable with their typical routine after only a week. The hardest part of my placement was leaving them!
I now have invaluable friends, and indeed contacts, if I ever travel to that area of the world again.
Work the World has a multitude of destinations all over the globe, and the majority of them have an optional ‘add-on’ week called the Village Healthcare Experience. The Village Healthcare Experience in the Philippines was extremely well-reviewed, and partly inspired my choice of destination.
I spent one week at the village clinic on Guimaras Island, a provincial island across the water from Iloilo. I lived with a family from the Ati tribe and experienced village life, local culture, and rural healthcare.
While I was in the village, I learned how to weave (among many other traditional skills), identify medicinal plants and herbs, and formed an unforgettable bond with my Ati family.
The staff at the Work the World house were incredibly kind and accommodating. They worked tirelessly to ensure each of us had an excellent experience.
They regularly checked in with each of us to evaluate how our placements were progressing (along with all other aspects of the experience).
The house itself was a wonderful place to live, comfortably fitting 42 people during one week of my stay. The meals were absolutely delicious, and the catering team were perfectly capable of accommodating food allergies and dietary requirements.
Every Thursday, the Work the World team hosted ‘BBQ night’. There was always an extravagant feast, then karaoke for hours afterwards.
With new students rotating in and out of the program each weekend, I met people from all over the world. I formed friendships that will last well beyond my time overseas.
In terms of travel opportunities, there were a variety of breathtaking islands and tropical destinations located mere hours from Iloilo. Adventure activities like parasailing and river tubing are all accessible too. I particularly enjoyed traveling to Islas de Gigantes and Antique.
There was a travel book in the house that had handwritten travel recommendations from previous students. The knowledgeable Work the World staff also offered excellent information on popular trips and activities.
Travelling during the weekends was really affordable—$60 USD was the maximum I spent on an entire weekend including meals, lodging, transportation, and activities! The other students in the Work the World house made brilliant travel companions. This is great if you’re thinking of travelling alone as I did.
I would absolutely recommend this program! It is well organized and provides structure and support throughout all periods of the internship.