Nepal was the most beautiful place I have ever been. We would get up early in the mornings so we could go on the roof terrace and watch the sun rise over the Himalayan mountains. Then we would all go down for breakfast that the team had prepared for us which included fresh local fruits, some of which I had never tried before. After breakfast, we’d all get ready to go to placement.
I was very happy with my placement because Work the World ensure you are given the opportunity to have several calls before departure to tell them about your areas of interest and the wards you want to be allocated to.
Nurses would mainly provide the medications, change dressings, and monitor patients’ observations.
The first week of placement was quite interesting as a lot of what I saw and observed was very different to what I was used to. As expected, the healthcare system in Nepal is quite different to the UK. For example, in Nepal, the personal care of the patient is provided entirely by their family members so there is no strict visiting times on the wards. Nurses would mainly provide the medications, change dressings, and monitor patients’ observations. The majority of the people in Nepal wear sandals and flip-flops and that includes doctors as well. I spent one day in the delivery suite and the doctor’s sandals were completely covered in blood by the time the baby was born.
The equipment available in the hospitals is not very advanced, meaning that some of the lifesaving procedures carried out free of charge in the UK via these machines are not available in Nepal or if they are, only a small group of people can afford it. During my placement in the emergency department, I saw a few cases where patients had come in due to severe chest pain or heart attacks, however the only running cath lab in Pokhara was either out of service or the family could simply not afford it.
they managed to dissolve the blood clot in the patient’s artery and avoid a second heart attack without a cath lab.
However, not having advanced equipment means that all the nurses and doctors would go through intense training and had a vast knowledge of the human anatomy, physiology and pharmacy. They were able to explain complex conditions in simple English and were able to connect the symptoms to a condition without the help of technology. After administering different medications and closely monitoring the patient with chest pain, they managed to dissolve the blood clot in the patient’s artery and avoid a second heart attack without a cath lab.
The people in Nepal are very welcoming and friendly and spoke good English. The language lessons at the house really helped us when communicating with patients in the hospital. We were able to ask them about their conditions and their pain. However, most of the time one of the student nurses would help and interpret everything for us and the patient. I really appreciated this especially during the handover which was mostly in Nepali.
When we were not on placement, we had lots of activities to keep us entertained and occupied. Hiking trips, paragliding, rafting, canoeing, visiting temples and museums, spending a weekend at Chitwan Zoo and seeing elephants, visiting the birthplace of Buddha and so much more. We spent the majority of our time shopping, eating and drinking at different restaurants and bars that had a beautiful view of Lake Phewa. We even went out for karaoke and watched classic Hollywood movies at a very lovely and cosy cinema called Movie Garden.
Unfortunately, the last couple of weeks of our stay in Pokhara coincided with monsoon season and it rained every evening and afternoon, but that did not stop us from having fun. We had game nights at the house playing new Nepali card games that we’d learnt. There were a few instruments in the house that some of us could play and we’d have a little jam session. Sometimes we’d all sit around in the lounge and just read.
Sharing a house with so many different healthcare professionals from all over the world meant that not only did I learn about the Nepali culture, but I also learnt about my housemates’ cultures and healthcare systems too.
Through all of these new experiences and knowledge that I gained, I also got to know myself a lot better than before. I made life-long friends, learned valuable life lessons, practiced my nursing skills and every time I had a question the Work the World team were there to help me. It was a very humbling, heart-warming and unique experience and I strongly suggest you sign up for it as well. Sometimes what you are looking for, is right outside of your comfort zone.