As a third year pharmacy student, I knew I wanted to do a hospital placement over the summer. After being recommended Work the World by numerous other students, I decided to take my placement with them. After looking at all the different destinations, I knew I wanted to go to Africa, and so Ghana was perfect. I was excited to see how pharmacy would be different in a developing country.
Having a member of the Work the World team greet me at the airport made the experience of arriving in a foreign country stress-free. There was no need to worry about finding my way around or organizing transport, as they took me all the way to the Work the World house, which was also brilliant. During my four weeks in Ghana, the support I received from the in-country Work the World team was incredible. The team was really friendly and helpful, making me feel at home from the beginning. They were there to help with any questions or concern I had about my placement, and even helped organize our weekend travel plans.
During the three weeks I spent in Work the World's partner hospital, I had the opportunity to work in the dispensary, attend ward rounds, visit the HIV/TB clinics and herbal pharmacy department. I was also extremely fortunate to be able to attend theatre to observe two different surgeries, something I would not be able to do back in the UK. I also assisted in making some of the hospital’s supply of adults’ cough syrup. The time I spent in Work the World’s partner hospital was incredibly valuable and I learnt a lot, especially with regards to the management, treatment and diagnosis of diseases that are not commonly seen at home e.g. TB and malaria. I found that the roles of pharmacists in Ghana are completely different from the UK. The pharmacists are mainly based in the dispensary and not on the ward. Working in the dispensary was also different from the UK due to the limited resources; labeling involves writing the directions by hand on the box and there is no database to check for interactions between drugs so this also has to be done manually. The staff in the pharmacy department were very welcoming and helpful. They were also very knowledgeable about all aspects of pharmacy and the medicines used, and I learnt a lot from them.
The time I spent in Work the World’s partner hospital was incredibly valuable and I learnt a lot, especially with regards to the management, treatment and diagnosis of diseases that are not commonly seen at home
The weekends were the perfect opportunity to travel. At Cape Coast I got to stroke a crocodile and go on a canopy walk in Kakum National Park. At Mole National Park we went on a safari and saw elephants. We also went to an African village and got to dance with the locals. At Axim, we took a canoe trip to a stilt village. Each weekend was an adventure and was a brilliant way to relax and enjoy Ghana.
During my fourth week, I took the Village Healthcare Experience, where I lived in a rural Ghanaian village – a completely different experience from the previous three weeks in the hospital. We were based in the pharmacy department of a maternity clinic. The clinic was a lot quieter than the hospital but this meant I had the opportunity to dispense medicine with the pharmacy assistants, examine a pregnant woman with the midwife, and helped diagnose and discuss treatments of the patients with the nurse. We were also lucky to see the birth of a baby, which was an amazing experience. I thoroughly enjoyed the clinic and it also gave me the opportunity to learn more about the roles of other healthcare professionals. The hosts were very welcoming and we soon became part of the family; helping collect water by carrying it on our heads and cooking with the outdoor stove! The afternoon activities were also really fun and we got to experience the village. The last week was the perfect end to my time in Ghana.
I would highly recommend a pharmacy placement with Work the World to any student or healthcare professional. It was a life changing experience and I would definitely do it all over again!