University of Southampton 2022

Nursing, Village Healthcare Experiences, Ghana Takoradi

I studied adult nursing at University of Southampton. I was newly qualified, and before I started my new job I wanted to experience nursing overseas. 

I did an undergraduate course which was a two-year course, so I didn’t get the opportunity to do an elective. I was keen to explore a totally different healthcare system so I decided to go to Ghana with a friend from uni and I had the time of my life.

Ghanians are so incredibly friendly, I’d never been to Africa before and this country felt easy and very safe. You could walk around with ease, everyone wanted to help you and say hello. 

When I first arrived at the hospital with the Work the World team it was a shock. Even though you try not to compare it to the UK, it’s hard not to.

Social Media - Saskia VeldkampGiven the lack of resources, the staff cope incredibly well. They do their best with the little they have. If they didn’t have something they needed they would come up with different ideas and solutions to the problem. It was incredible to witness.

The staff I worked alongside at the hospital were so welcoming and were not fazed by anything. To me, there was an obvious lack of resources but they were all so level-headed and calm - this was the norm for them. Their calm approach is definitely something I’ve taken back home with me. 

They were so friendly and wanted to get to know us. They’d ask us about life at home and what we were watching on Netflix. I never thought I would be having a conversation about Emily in Paris with Ghanaina doctors. It was their way of getting to know us, making us feel at ease. It was a really easy way of building rapport with them. 

My time in A&E was busy, and as I had already qualified I felt confident in getting involved. I was involved with triaging all patients that came into the hospital. I am now doing the exact same assessments in my new role in Portsmouth A&E. 

Life in the Work the World house was great. The house, the team and the food is really lovely. The team could never do enough for you, they were so helpful and always around. BBQ nights were every Thursday and were a lot of fun, the team got everyone together and we’d be dancing and eating amazing food. It was a great way of getting everyone together. 

Village Healthcare Week

I also did a week in a rural village as part of the Village Healthcare Experience. I have to say it was the highlight of my whole trip. 

Spending a week in such a remote village was incredible. We stayed with a family and had a Work the World guide with us. It was so immersive and so different from my placement in Takoradi. 

The family were so happy to be hosting Work the World again. They cooked lovely food, the younger family members wanted us to play with them, they were really welcoming and just wanted to make sure we were happy all the time. 

Every morning we would go out into the community to assist with checking in on the locals. They very much take an advisory role in the village, offering guidance initially before prescribing medication. This is really interesting as in the UK medication is in abundance, so it was really nice to see how they’d treat a patient who possibly had high blood pressure for example. Educating them initially rather than just prescribing meds, because this was not always an option. 

Inger van Duuren (VANDUURE17295)We also went into a couple of the local schools and spoke to the slightly older children about sexual health. It was really immersive and everyone was excited that we were there. 

In the afternoons we did lots of activities, canoe trips, BBQs on the beach, went to see Busua castle, helped collect water from the well and played with the children, they loved it! 

Adding on this village week really helped me have a better understanding of the whole Ghanaian healthcare system and actually just the Ghanian culture. You can really immerse yourself in the daily life of living in a remote African village and it compliments your city based placement too. 

The communities who live in these villages live so far away from a big city, and therefore a big hospital, it made complete sense as to why we saw such advanced conditions when they would eventually arrive into the city. It is so different from my hospital experience in Takoradi, I would recommend this to anyone! 

I am now working full-time in an A&E department in Portsmouth and there is so much about my time in Ghana that I’m reminded of. 

I feel Ghana really helped my emotional intelligence and this is really benefiting within my role. I feel I am a lot more resilient now, the staff in Ghana were all quite relaxed and really kept their cool when under immense pressure. 

I know from the way the UK has coped with the Covid pandemic, a lot of NHS staff have been very stressed - understandably so, but looking how measured and calm the Ghanian nurses and doctors were in what was a very high pressured environment too has definitely rubbed off on me and has really helped me starting my new position in a similar environment. 

Going overseas to experience a different healthcare system, a different way of nursing is a great opportunity for anyone. I feel so much more emotionally intelligent and confident and am able to display a cooler head in an A&E department due to my experience in Ghana

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