A classmate from nursing school signed up with Work The World for a placement in Tanzania over the summer, and recommended the program to me. I figured that I could get the best of both worlds by spending my winter break developing my nursing experience and exploring a new country at the same time. So, I signed up for a 2 week placement at an Intensive Care Unit in Kathmandu, Nepal.
I had all of the information and assistance I needed from the head office in the UK who checked in on me as the departure date approached and helped assure that my concerns were answered before leaving the country. ‘MyTrip’ (Work the World’s online elective planner) is very user friendly and helped me plan out every step required to travel abroad. The information package provided was also very thorough, covering everything from a recommended packing list to an introduction to the Nepali language.
When I returned to the capital city for my placement, Krishna (the house cook) was there to pick me up from the domestic airport. The rest of this day was spent settling into the house. I met other students who were staying in the house and we got to know each other over supper. I arrived at the same time as a physiotherapy student so on the next full day the two of us had our city orientation with the Assistant Program Manager, Uma. We explored the main areas of the city and ate delicious traditional Newari food. On the second full day, the Program Manager Sean took us to our hospital orientation to get an introduction to the units before actually starting our placements.
The hospital was within walking distance of the house, which was very convenient. I found that I was able to have a very hands-on experience at the hospital because I took the time to get to know many of the doctors and nurses on the unit. A pattern that I noticed with the other students is that once the hospital staff starts to know and trust you, the better your experience will be. All of the nurses and doctors spoke English and were able to help translate when communicating with the patients. Because of this, I didn’t find the language barrier was an issue during my experience.
I would say that my health care elective in Kathmandu was the experience of a lifetime and I recommend it to everyone who is interested.
The house was spacious and comfortable. The Work The World staff in Nepal went out of their way to make sure our experience was fantastic. We would come home from placement to find an abundant and delicious meal waiting for us, the house was always kept clean and neat and the program managers Uma and Sean were always a phone call away to answer any of our questions. Language classes were available during the evenings, which proved to be very helpful when getting around the city.
Throughout the short period of time I spent in Kathmandu, the students staying there began to feel more like family and the Work the World house felt more like a home. It was wonderful to spend time with other like-minded healthcare professionals and to have the amazing and hard-working in-country staff that I could rely on if there was ever a problem.
As far as my travels in Nepal went, I started my adventures in Chitwan national park. I boated down the Rapti river, visited the native Tharu village, went on elephant safaris and went for a jungle walk. My next destination was Kathmandu. I spent my spare time exploring the majority of the city. I also took a weekend trip to Pokhara, which I spent paragliding, hiking and visiting breathtakingly beautiful temples.
Advice I would give to students who are interested in an overseas elective include: keep an open mind, be culturally sensitive and seize any personal and professional opportunities that arise in order to make the most of this experience. When comparing the health care systems, it is also important to understand the context in which these differences arise. To summarize, I would say that my health care elective in Kathmandu was the experience of a lifetime and I recommend it to everyone who is interested.