As a 3rd year physiotherapy student, I decided to do my four week elective placement in Ghana. Through research and recommendations from other students, I found the Work the World website and contacted them regarding the placement.
From the initial contact, pre-flight departure phone call, to the post trip debriefing the work the world staff were helpful, friendly and provided guidance and advice regarding the placement and life in Ghana. I was offered a placement in the physiotherapy department in Effia Nkwanta regional hospital in Takoradi.
Arrival in Ghana
On arrival in Accra, we were met by Prince (programme representative) with a big smile and an Akwabba (welcome) and taken to the hotel for our 1st night in Ghana. The next morning, we left for the four hour journey to Takoradi on an air conditioned coach. My first impressions of Ghana were hustle and bustle, a fast paced, yet friendly, colourful environment. My first day in Takoradi included an orientation of the hospital, the area where we are staying, the market and meeting my new housemates.
The Work the World House
The Work the World house became my second home over my four weeks in Takoradi and the staff and other students became my second family. The wonderful staff there are Ophelia who cooks an amazing breakfast and dinner, so you get to try a wide range of Ghanaian foods such as Red Red and ground nut soup with rice balls. There is Alhassan who takes care of the house, Prince the programme representative and Joe the programme manager. The staff are always around and available if you need anything. On Tuesdays, we had Fante lessons taught by our very own Fante teacher, where we learnt general terms that allowed us to communicate better. Thursdays is the best day of the week because it is barbeque day complete with dancing to Ghanaian tunes e.g. 'I love my life'. Living in the house gave me the opportunity to meet medical and nursing students from different areas in England and Canada whom I formed friendships with over my four weeks.
Normal work day
Each day begins with an early wake up at 6:30 am in order to be ready for breakfast at 7:30 and be at placement at 8:30. The working day in the gymnasium includes, assisting patients with their exercises in the gym, teaching new exercises and techniques and assessment and treatment of new patients. Also twice weekly, I was able to work with the paediatric patients and their mothers. This was my favourite part of the placement as it provided an opportunity to observe and treat paediatric cases which are rare in the United Kingdom.
I also worked in the electrotherapy area where I learnt to use various electrotherapy equipment such as microwave and infrared and different massage techniques. There was also an opportunity to assist the physiotherapist in the wards, with referrals mainly from the orthopaedic, surgical and children's wards. The types of conditions I saw during the placement were adult patients who suffered from stroke, road traffic accidents and general musculoskeletal conditions and paediatric patients with cerebral palsy, injection palsy and Erb's palsy.
The physiotherapists and assistants were friendly, knowledgeable and always willing to help me understand anything new I came across. It was easy to get along with them and they were experienced in working with students from England and other countries. I really enjoyed working with them and learned a lot from them.
Takoradi and weekend trips
Travelling around Takoradi was easy as there were plenty of taxis and tro tro's (mini bus) available. There is an internet cafe and shops an easy distance from the house and a 10 - 15 minute drive via taxi or tro tro takes us to the local market, where I was able to find all kinds of supplies i.e. backpack, flip flops. There are also several beach resorts, bars and restaurants available which become our local hang outs after work.
During the weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to various tourist attractions in different parts of Ghana with the other students. I was able to go to Elmina and cape coast castle, Kumasi, the stilt village, Kakum national park and different beach resorts. These trips allowed me to explore Ghana, the people and their culture and make great memories.
Overall, my placement in Ghana enriched my professional and personal development as a physiotherapist, allowed me to gain further insight into an African culture, meet new people and have an amazing adventure.