We chose to undertake our Pharmacy placement in Cambodia because we saw that it was a new destination to Work the World — Phnom Penh looked like a beautiful place and somewhere completely different to anywhere we had ever been before.
In the time leading up to our placements we used MyTrip, the online tool provided by Work the World, which answered all of our questions about the hospital we would be working in, what to expect and the timeline of things to organise such as insurance, flights and visas.
We were incredibly tired when we arrived, but we were met by a member of the Work the World team at the airport. Being in an unfamiliar place, we felt instantly reassured and safe to see him.
After a good night’s sleep, we were taken on a city orientation by the team which was an excellent opportunity to get to know some of the other housemates and see a few famous sites nearby, such as the Royal Palace.
Phnom Penh itself felt like a friendly, safe place. On our first day exploring the city, the local staff team were quick to help us find popular spots and made sure that we were alright before leaving. You can get a local tuk-tuk very easily from the house into the city in just under 15 minutes, making it very accessible.
The only way to describe the Work the World house is that it felt like a community. After a busy day on placement, it was so nice to come home and swap stories with everyone, there was such a mix of disciplines and nationalities, we all bonded together so well.
During our placement, we met one girl at the hospital who had organised her placement independently and we got the impression that she was really lonely. We felt a little sorry for her as we were lucky enough to go home after placement and hang out as a group of friends and socialise.
Pharmacy in Cambodia is very different to what we have been taught in the UK. We quickly noticed that there was a distinct lack of paperwork. Protocols and processes are integral to the success of healthcare back home. In Cambodia, we didn’t feel like it was as strict or as important.
Staff at the hospital regularly asked us about the differences in Pharmacy practices in the UK compared to those in Cambodia. We were surprised to learn how little information was available to them regarding different medications and interactions. We were invited to join the team during ‘snack time’ too which we really appreciated, everyone was so friendly and welcoming.
We also got to experience the ICU ward, which contained just 15 beds and no individual curtains, which was surprising as privacy is extremely important in UK healthcare. We got to be as involved as the pharmacists in the hospital were, which was great.
During rounds, we observed patients who had been there for several months due to complications with infection — one person we met had been at the hospital for five years. The experience was eye-opening and felt like a true reflection of healthcare in Cambodia.
We spent some of our weekends at Koh Rong beach with our housemates. The beach had an incredibly chilled vibe and consisted of white sands and palm trees. Definitely make the most of your weekends during your placement and travel! We used the Giant Ibis bus to get from the city to the beach and found it to be extremely comfortable and safe.