My time in Dar es Salaam has been the most incredible life experience, and I am so happy I decided to go on this adventure. My placement in the hospital consisted of one week in pediatrics, one week in neonatal and two weeks on the maternity ward. My favorite placement was definitely the maternity ward because the nurses were so welcoming and taught me how to conduct deliveries.
I have truly learned so much. Although the health care system here is vastly different than anything I’ve ever experienced, keeping an open mind and being eager to learn made my time in the hospital very rewarding. My biggest piece of advice to anyone going into placement is to ask questions and be active in all that is going on around you. Also, learning some basic Swahili really does help; the doctors and nurses really appreciate it when you make the effort to speak their language.
My daily routine included waking up around 6:30, getting dressed and eating breakfast (which is already prepared and laid out buffet-style) and then taking the Dala Dala to the hospital around 7:30. The Dala Dala [local minibus] can be intimidating at times, but after a few trips you get the hang of it and build up more and more confidence. By the second week of my four week trip I was able to comfortably take the Dala Dala to and from the hospital on my own, although often the students travel together. I would then spend the day helping however I could on the various units, and I would get back to the WTW house around 2 or 3 p.m. Then I had the rest of the day to relax, go to the market, chat with housemates, or hang out by the pool. Dinner is served at 6:30 every night and afterwards we could go to karaoke, the bars down the street, or just go to sleep after a long day. I was also able to go to Mikumi National Park one weekend for a Safari, and then I spent the next weekend snorkeling, swimming with dolphins and dancing A LOT on Zanzibar [a tropical island just offshore].
I would absolutely recommend this trip to anyone considering it. It has been more rewarding than I could have imagined and I know that I will be a better nurse because of all that I have experienced.