Queen's University Belfast 2013

Pharmacy, Ghana Takoradi

I travelled to Ghana to do a Pharmacy elective for two weeks during the summer of 2013 with Work the World. With basically four months off for summer, I knew that I had to do something worthwhile with my time, but something that would give me an experience I would never forget, and this is exactly what I got when I went to Ghana.

After looking at a few companies to do my placement with, I decided that Work the World was definitely the one for me. One of the reasons for this is that I was able to do Pharmacy placement in Ghana, and I love Africa. The company also seemed to think of everything, so I knew that I would be supported the whole way through my elective. As well as having a great placement, travelling with Work the World gives you the opportunity to explore the country that you choose during your weekends so it was decided, I was going to go to Ghana.

Before leaving for my elective, I received a lot of support from the staff in the Work the World head office, and this was so great to have. They would call me to see how I was getting on and give specific information about my actual trip which was really helpful. Everyone who travels with Work the World also gets a MyTrip page which has a timeline which telling you what you need to do on the lead up to your elective which I thought was brilliant.

I was given the opportunity to actually go to a community pharmacy one evening to see how it works and I'm so glad that I did

Once I arrived at the airport, I was met by the Work the World staff members in Ghana. All the people who arrived that evening for their electives stayed in a hotel in the capital, Accra, which gave us a chance to rest before traveling to the Work the World house in Takoradi the following day. At this point, we were still a bit nervous about what was ahead of us but we were soon put at ease after our orientation around the hospital and the local area. In fact, we felt that we could literally do anything in Takoradi because the orientation was so thorough.

The house was great and had everything that you needed for your stay, except warm water which meant cold showers for two weeks, but in the heat, you wouldn't really want to have a warm shower anyway! The food was great and I am a very fussy eater, so that is a lot coming from me. If you find that any of the meals aren't to your taste, Ophelia, the cook, will do her best not to make it again whilst you are staying there!

All of the staff were brilliant and were always willing to help throughout the whole trip. They really put a lot of effort into making you feel welcome and they will make sure you have a great time away. As well as helping you with your placements, they were a great source of knowledge when it came to deciding what you wanted to do during your weekends off, and they would make sure you knew exactly what to do while you went travelling.

The hospital placement itself was just amazing. I got to work in a number of the different dispensaries in the hospital as well as visit a few clinics. These included an HIV Clinic, Diabetes Clinic and Hypertension Clinic, where I got to see patients getting counselled by the local doctors. I really learnt a lot from these clinics and would recommend going to all of them. As well as all of this, I got to do ward rounds for a few days. During these days, I encountered a number of different medical conditions and learnt the different treatments for each of them as well as seeing first hand the way the patients are cared for in a developing country. I was really shocked at the lack of medicines that the hospital actually had, but the pharmacists said that any that they didn't have, the patient would be able to get at their local community pharmacy.

I was given the opportunity to actually go to a community pharmacy one evening to see how it works and I'm so glad that I did (because who else can say that they have worked in a community pharmacy in Africa) and the staff were also really friendly.

During my only weekend in Ghana, I travelled with a few of my housemates to Cape Coast for a tour of the castle and then onward to Kakum National Park, which is essentially a big rainforest. Here we walked through the forest to a tree house where we spent the night. We then got up VERY early the following morning to walk through the forest again in the dark (with a guide) and once the sun had risen, we did a canopy walk, which was a series of rope bridges along the tops of the trees. This was absolutely amazing and the views were just unbelievable, and for those who may be scared of heights, it was actually quite stable so that wasn't a problem. There is so much to do in Ghana, so if this doesn't sound like your type of thing, you could go on safari or take a relaxing beach weekend amongst other things.

If I was to give some advice for people about to go it would be to:

  • take a lot of mosquito repellent (you can't be too careful)
  • bring some nice clothes as there is time to socialise with your housemates during the day and in the evening
  • get some hand-made clothes to take home with you, try to keep a diary of your trip (you will appreciate it when you get home)
  • learn a bit of Fante before you arrive as the locals LOVE it when you try to speak it
  • take lots of pictures so that you can remember what will be the adventure of a lifetime

I had the best time ever in Ghana and I would definitely recommend Work the World to anyone who is thinking of doing an elective in a developing country. I learnt so much during my placement and had such a good time throughout my trip. Traveling with Work the World meant that I got to experience the real African culture during my trip and I got to meet the most amazing people as well to share these experiences with. I will always remember my “African Adventure” as the best trip ever, and I know that you will as well. 

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