When I first decided to do a placement with Work the World, I was initially drawn to the Philippines. For me, the Philippines not only provided stunning destinations for free time but a healthcare system that was vastly different to home and somewhere that I believed I would get the most out of my placement abroad; seeing first-hand the impact of limited resources, women having to share beds and a quick turnaround time between deliveries in the delivery room.
The conditions were very cramped and on the postnatal ward there were as many as four women and their babies sharing a bed.
My first impression of the hospital was that it was so busy. At the time of my placement the hospital was undergoing construction work, so half of the hospital was shut and all patients were in one half of the hospital. The conditions were very cramped and on the postnatal ward there were as many as four women and their babies sharing a bed. The corridors in the hospital were lined with people waiting for clinics or beds on wards, but the staff knew who was waiting for what - the organisation in the hospital was impeccable. Throughout my two week placement I was constantly in awe of all the staff in the hospital, they had so many patients to look after but knew what every patient was in with and what treatment they were waiting for.
The hospital in Iloilo contained many wards that we do not have at home for example, tuberculosis and dengue fever wards. The hospital also had its own human milk bank. I spent a day here with the nurses and learnt about the need for the milk bank and the process of pasteurising donated breast milk and the screening process that it goes through in order to be used on the wards.
My favourite clinic that I visited while in Iloilo was the Programme for Young Parents. With high rates of teenage pregnancy in Iloilo there is a need for a teenage pregnancy clinic. In the clinic the girls are weighed, have their blood pressure taken and the fetal heart is auscultated, followed by a short appointment with the obstetrician. During the clinic the girls also sit through a lecture, with topics ranging from caring for a newborn baby to contraception. In one morning clinic, more than 30 girls walked through the doors, and all were seen. The clinic runs like clockwork and everyone knows what their individual role is.
The delivery room in Iloilo was very different to back home. The hospital in Iloilo only had two delivery beds and averaged around 40 deliveries a day. This often meant that as soon as one woman had finished with the delivery bed it was quickly washed down and the next woman got onto the bed. All the staff in the delivery room were very helpful and explained some of the cultural practices that they practice in the Philippines for example, silent labouring.
The difference in the delivery room in Iloilo compared to home was quite overwhelming. The equipment that was being used was out of date and a lot of the practices were based on tradition. However, it did not take long to realise that they provide the women and families that they look after with the best quality care that they can with the resources that they have.
On my placement in Iloilo I made a great group of friends who I spent the evenings and weekends with. Our group consisted of many different healthcare professions, from midwives and nurses to doctors and physiotherapists, and not only did our trip allow us to learn about practice in the Philippines, but also globally.
As we visited the Philippines in April, one of the hottest months of the year, when we finished placement for the day we would get a jeepney back to the Work the World house (possibly one of the best and funniest forms of transport to grace this earth), have some lunch and then head to the local swimming pool for the evening before returning back to the house for dinner and karaoke.
I spent my first weekend in the Philippines in Boracay, one of the most beautiful islands I have ever seen! White sandy beaches, beach front bars and water sports were a great way to spend the weekend after a long and hot week on placement. The island was a five-hour van drive and a short boat ride from the house and because a large group of us went, we were able to go relatively cheaply. I did almost everything that the island offered while I was there: sunset paddleboarding, snorkelling, banana boating, parasailing, and of course trying lots of the local cuisine.
I cannot recommend Iloilo enough for a placement abroad. I had the most amazing time and met some of the most amazing people with whom I will be friends forever. This placement improved my confidence and has positively impacted my practice back home and has left me with a lifetime of memories.