University of Manchester 2013
My placement in Ghana is an experience I will never forget. The people that I met and the experiences that I had were unforgettable, but also so much fun! I knew from an early age that at some point I would like to visit Africa whether that be as part of my degree or otherwise. When I started my nursing and realised that there was a chance to go abroad I jumped at the chance and from then on was Ghana bound!
I chose to travel with Work the World because of the ease of organisation. As a second year student nurse the whole year was hectic with essays, assessments, placement and of course exams and because of this I would not have had time to organise the trip myself.
On arrival to Ghana however I realised that without the help of Work the World I would have been completely lost! Although I have previously done some traveling in Europe, this was another ball game, a completely different culture with completely different rules and systems and the guidance that Work the World gave me was invaluable.
On my arrival to Ghana I had no idea what to expect, all I knew was that I was looking for that Work the World t-shirt! Thankfully the man in the t-shirt, Ezekiel, whisked me away, sat me down, gave me water and made me feel extremely at ease, all within the space of about 5 minutes! From then on I felt at ease the whole time I was in Ghana, the Work the World staff always made me feel at home and were always happy to help.
I felt that this improved my confidence in my clinical skills no end.
Every weekend I travelled somewhere new in Ghana. There were many trips being organised within the house and if you wanted to go somewhere new Ezekiel will happily help you organise it. While in Ghana I saw elephants at Mole National Park, visited the Volta Region, had 6 monkeys climbing on me at once at a monkey sanctuary, slept in a tree house in the African jungle, sunbathed on a perfect beach and also learnt to surf! The weekends were always amazing and a new experience each time.
During the week after placement there was plenty of sunbathing to do at the local beaches and lots of fabric to buy (to make into clothes/bags) at market circle, but we were always back for Ophelia’s amazing food at 6pm at the Work the World house. Thursday was BBQ night and always so much fun! Dancing and amazing food are always a good mix!
Placement in Ghana was extremely different to here in the UK. I was expecting a difference because I was aware that they may not have the same resources. On arrival however I found that the difference is more of a cultural difference in care. At first I found some of the differences hard to deal with as patients were not treated how I would expect them to be treated in the UK and I often saw poor examples of care. Despite this I found the experience rewarding and I felt that I learnt a lot.
A lot of the patients in Ghana present late with conditions and therefore are often critical. Because of this you can often find yourself saving someone’s life. Furthermore I saw many conditions that I would never have come across in the UK, for example a patient with fully developed tetanus or a patient with a snake bite. These experiences helped me to develop my nursing skills further and allowed me to become more confident in myself as a nurse.
A really good addition to my placement experience was the Village Healthcare Experience. At the village where I worked, there is one nurse in charge to assess, diagnose and treat the patients that come in. By the end of the week I was doing the same with a little help! I felt that this improved my confidence in my clinical skills no end. While in the village I also saw a baby clinic and some home visits all of which were really interesting and definitely worth doing. After placement in the village there were many activities organised and my guide Wisdom was lovely and made the week so much fun.
As for advice for people thinking of joining Work the World I would say definitely do it! You can learn so much on placement in Ghana, I know I learnt a lot about myself as a nurse while over there. Not only that but you can have an amazing time too! You meet so many brilliant people both Ghanaian and others in the house and the traveling is truly amazing.
Practically when you go make sure you take some magazines! They will be greatly appreciated by the other housemates. Also remember to expect a completely different way of doing everything, from catching a bus to buying something at a market; you have to learn the Ghanaian way of doing it - but that is part of the fun! Also know that you are in good hands with Work the World and if in doubt you can always ring Ezekiel (he knows everything!).
Finally make sure you savour every minute while you are there because you will miss it so much when your back, I know I do!!