The second we arrived in Iloilo, I realized how different it was to the U.S. It was a much simpler lifestyle, and I knew immediately that it was going to be an amazing trip. From the moment we got off the plane, everyone was so nice to us. I couldn’t believe that I was actually in the Philippines and that I would be spending the next four weeks here.
I spent my first week in the ER at a government-run hospital that is very low resourced and overcrowded. The facility has approximately 350 beds but has around 700 patients.
It took me a few days to get adjusted because it was so different to the hospitals in the U.S. However, it is important to be respectful and understand why they do things the way that they do. The staff do the best job that they can with the resources they are provided with.
In the ER, I saw gunshot and stab wounds, CPR carried out multiple times, cancer patients, suturing, and sadly, death. It was a very eye-opening experience.
It was so much fun, and I loved being able to experience more of the culture.
On the first weekend, we went to Antique which is on the western side of Panay Island. We were able to get a private van, go to an island, swim in the ocean, see the world’s largest pearl, hike to a waterfall, go extreme tubing, enjoy a fire-heated bath, go fishing with the locals, and have endless amounts of food for a very affordable price. It was so much fun, and I loved being able to experience more of the culture.
The second week, I was in the medical ICU and surgical ICU. These two areas of the hospital were newer than the rest. There were IV pumps and air conditioning, among other things. However, it was also much slower than the ER, which was to be expected. Although it was slower, I still got to see many cases such as motor vehicle accidents, neurological patients, stroke patients, and stab wounds.
Throughout the week, we were able to explore more of the city as well. At the weekend, myself and three others flew to Cebu for a mini vacation. We did so many things in a short period of time. We stayed in Cebu City on night one and three, and we stayed in Moalboal on night two. It was so much fun! The four of us had a blast exploring the island. Throughout the trip we were able to swim with turtles, rent motorbikes, go to beaches, go canyoneering (which was awesome), and many other things. I highly recommend going to Cebu.
I highly recommend doing a pediatric rotation. The nurses were very knowledgeable and eager to talk to me.
The third week, I was in pediatrics. I had not thought of doing pediatrics in the U.S., but I loved my experience in the Philippines. The nurses, doctors, patients, and families are so nice and appreciative. I’ve never met such kind-hearted people. I was able to see many different medical cases including dengue fever, cancer, pneumonia, premature babies, ITP, and many others. I highly recommend doing a pediatric rotation. The nurses were very knowledgeable and eager to talk to me.
That weekend, I did not travel anywhere because the following week I was participating in Work the World’s Village Healthcare Week. So, instead, myself and two others went into the hospital on Saturday for one last time. It was sad to say goodbye to the staff, families, and patients. I had such an amazing experience in the hospital. On Friday and Saturday, we also had to say goodbye to many of the friends that we had made in the house too, which was sad because they lived so far away.
During the fourth week, myself and two other Americans had the Village Healthcare Week. There was minimal cell phone reception, so we had limited contact with people outside of the village. It was so refreshing though to not use technology as much.
The week was so much fun. We stayed with a local family who were so welcoming and made us feel at home. They treated us so kindly and showed us their way of life. It was so humbling to be with them. Everyone was so kind and eager to show us around. We were placed in a hospital and two clinics, and we were also able to go island hopping, learn about herbal medicine, make Filipino delicacies, and immerse ourselves in the culture. They live so simply but so joyfully too. Everyone was so happy and grateful for everything. At the hospital, I was even able to assist with CPR!
It was unlike anything I have ever done.
I highly recommend the Village Healthcare Week. It was an amazing experience. It was unlike anything I have ever done. It was so eye-opening and fun. The hardest part about the week was having to say goodbye. None of us wanted to leave. I still stay in contact with the family to this day.
Deciding to go on this trip was the best thing I have ever done. I learnt and experienced so many things. It has opened my eyes to how much we have in the U.S. I loved experiencing a new culture and truly immersing myself in it. My experience was beyond my wildest expectations. It was amazing in every way. It was so hard to leave, but I know I will be back someday. If you are still unsure about whether to do this, just do it! You will not regret it. I guarantee you will love it!