I am a third year nursing student on my final placement. As it is an elective placement, I was able to choose where I wanted to spend my time. I used the internet to research placements abroad and from here I discovered Work the World. WTW had many destinations to offer, working in developing country settings. From what I was reading, it looked very well organised.
I decided on the Philippines for many reasons. The beautiful beaches, good weather, and English speaking. I also have Filipino nurse colleagues in the UK who are fantastic at their jobs and I wanted to compare their training to my own.
The assistance I had leading up to the trip was excellent. I was able to communicate as frequently as I wanted over the phone with any queries. For example; Visas, what to pack, immunisations etc. This is all re-iterated on the website. Payment was also easy to follow using Paypal or Visa/debit cards and also being able to pay in instalments was less of a money hit. Upon arrival, the Program Manager was there to meet me at the airport, from here we took a taxi to the house. Once at the house, the Chef had prepared some food and I was also introduced to some of the other staff and housemates. We had a brief discussion on what the next few days will entail. We were given a code to use the wifi and had the rest of the evening to relax and unpack.
The WTW house is like a huge mansion, which is excellent to accommodate so many students. The house is kept very clean with clean bedding weekly. The kitchen staff make the most amazing food with different cuisines from all over the world. Breakfast is served daily with plenty to choose from alongside dinner every evening. When the kitchen staff have their day off, they will still make your food and leave it in the fridge for you to heat up yourself. Every Thursday is BBQ night – again having different themed cuisines (Filipino, American, Mexican, etc) this is then finished off with a fun night of karaoke where everyone has to try!
If you have any problems, all staff are very approachable. Including if you are sick, they will accompany you to sort out what you need. They can help organise trips and activities you have in mind, and are always on the other end of the phone via ring or text 24/7. The nurse trainor at the hospital although not a WTW staff is most helpful also. Hospital placement was unbelievable. Such an eye-opening shocking experience. The areas I experienced here were Intensive Care, Outpatients, Medical ward, OB +Gyne. There is too much to write regarding the hospital experience to explain to other students. I feel it is better to go without knowing anything so then you can really appreciate the “shock” factor.
Different tribes would compete in a street competition throughout the city dressed in beautiful bright colours and costumes all handmade and dancing to the beat of traditional drums.
The main differences I picked up on were how resourceful the hospital is. For example, medication vials are recycled and cleaned to re-use for samples of urine/feces etc. Another massive contrast that I saw and found very hard to get my head around was the issue of privacy and dignity in patient care – this does not exist in the Philippines!! The village experience was probably my most favourite part of my placement. Living and being in the center of the Filipino culture was something I will never forget. The host family are so warm and welcoming and kind beyond words to describe. I would recommend this trip to anyone. After working on placement in the mornings, you are able to participate in afternoon activities including basket weaving, island hopping and presenting a teaching session to the local community for the children. The home is very traditional, with no running water, but it is amazing how it all works. The beds are very comfy with mosquito nets provided which worked really well.The food that was cooked was so delicious and there was always too much so you will never go hungry. The beaches were probably the best I have seen in the Philippines – not overcrowded by tourists. There is also opportunity to snorkel and swim through caves, another highlight was visiting Turtle Island. The week is finished off with a bonfire/family gathering of the village – which made me feel very emotional to be parting the wonderful people of the village. The best experience of my life!! A unique experience I had on the 3rd weekend in January was Dinagyang Festival!! This was basically a full weekend of partying, eating, watching the street festival to celebrate traditional religion and culture. Different tribes would compete in a street competition throughout the city dressed in beautiful bright colours and costumes all handmade and dancing to the beat of traditional drums.
I was able to use my weekends for travel as placement was usually Monday-Friday. I visited Antique for 2 days (1 night). This was a jam-packed adventure weekend. The early morning starts and travel were hard but so worth it. I visited the local area of Tibiao and experienced canyoneering, zipline, boulder jumping, riding a motorcycle into the mountains, fish spa and fishing with the locals on a bamboo raft at 5am. This trip would not suit someone who was looking to relax but more of an adventure seeker. I also spent the weekend in Palawan from Friday to Monday (x3 nights) with direct flights from Iloilo airport. Here I visited a prison, crocodile sanctuary, enjoyed firefly watching on a boat at night and had a day trip to the underground river caves (one of the 7 wonders of the world). This is a definite must-see if visiting Palawan. We also went island hopping and snorkelling on our final day. The resort we visited was called Dos Palmas which was beautiful, and we had a guide with us throughout to advise on things to do. There are other activities to do also after placement such as massages, shopping at the local malls, lots of places to eat out for dinner, visit local sites – the churches and the Iloilo sign. If you have a free whole day, there are also resorts with a pool and bars for chill and sun time. They charge a small entrance fee and it really is beautiful, just like paradise.
Additional advice I would give to future students would be:
1. If there is time before your trip to learn the local language – maybe off YouTube, to help with common phrases.
2. Bring mosquito repellent that contains Citronella – NOT Deet.
3. There is a pick up/drop-off laundry service for a minimal fee and it smells amazing.
4. Smile all the time. Filipinos are truly lovely, warm, kind and interesting people.
5. I would say try everything once – and don’t ever wish your trip away as the time really does fly by!!