When I read through the student reviews on the Work the World website, I thought they were too good to be true. However, having experienced everything for myself, I can say that everything went above and beyond my expectations.
I really wanted to go to the Philippines because I had worked with lots of Filipino nurses in the UK. I thought it would be interesting to go to their home country to see how different their healthcare system was.
I spent three weeks in a government hospital, in Surgical and Medical ICU, the Emergency Department and the Female Medical ward. Work the World made sure I could visit areas I was interested in and gave me an outline on what to expect in different areas, which helped narrow my options.
The whole hospital environment was very different to the UK. They had a lower staff-to-patient ratio, sometimes as few as two nurses per 50 patients. This was demanding at times, but families often stayed with patients to provide personal care, which relieved some of the burden.
One of the things I found most surprising was just how much the families helped with patient care. The nurses even taught families manual intubation, NG feeding and how to assist with oral medication. Nurses worked so hard there and were amazingly resourceful, which made me really appreciate what we had back in the UK.
"The nurses even taught families manual intubation, NG feeding and how to assist with oral medication.
I learnt so much about nursing in a country with low resources, and I went through a lot of personal development that I was able to apply to everyday life.
I decided to do Work the World’s Village Healthcare Experience, which was the highlight of my trip. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was the best experience I have ever had. I felt like I was part of village life.
We went into the local hospital in the morning, and undertook activities in the afternoon like basket weaving, playing with the local children and island hopping. The hospital on the island was much smaller than the one in the city, but still had the same limited resources. I administered IM injections, catheterised patients, and recorded observations.
Iloilo really felt like home whilst we were there, so much so that we would all talk about ‘heading home' after our shifts. The food was incredible, and the catering team themselves were amazing and were happy to accommodate any dietary requirements. They cooked a range of Filipino and Western dishes, and there were always plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day. The BBQ nights on Thursdays were amazing—there was a different theme each week, and there was karaoke... It was a great way to bond with housemates! I can't overstate how friendly the staff were, they went above and beyond to care for us and became friends.
I was unsure if many students actually went away at weekends, but most students did, and things were super cheap! On my first weekend, I went to Islas de Gigantes, where we island hopped, went jet skiing, banana boating and climbed a mountain. We ate some indigenous Filipino food too.
During the second weekend, we went to Antique, which was an adventure to say the least. We went to the most stunning remote beach I have ever seen (Seco Island, look it up!) The local children's singing group performed for us, we saw amazing waterfalls, and went water tubing. The weekends were action-packed, which I loved! During the third weekend, we went to Boracay—one of the Philippines’ most popular tourist destinations. This was a very different weekend as we chilled out by the beach and experienced some of the nightlife. The beach was busy but the atmosphere was incredible.
If you are considering an elective placement abroad, Work the World are the organisation to choose. I was thoroughly supported throughout, and this made the whole experience much easier. My advice to future students; be open minded and learn some of the local language beforehand.
I gained a lot of confidence through the experience. I found that I needed to put myself forward to maximise opportunities. I wasn’t afraid to ask to get involved as the staff were so obliging. They appreciated us showing an interest.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff, my housemates and the Filipino friends I made for making this once-in-a-lifetime experience an unforgettable one!