Glasgow Caledonian University 2018
I had hoped to travel abroad to complete my elective placement since the beginning of my physiotherapy degree. So, when I heard from other students about Work the World, I knew what to do.
I looked at all the destinations Work the World offered and I wasn’t sure which would be the best suited to me. It was a tough choice, but after taking into consideration my plans for travelling to other countries after the placement, I chose Iloilo. I certainly didn’t regret my choice!
In the time leading up to the placement, I provided Work the World with details of my previous clinical placement experiences and the areas of physiotherapy that I wished to gain more experience in.
Much to my delight, I got the opportunity to assist with the treatment of several paediatric patients throughout my four week placement. This enabled me to build professional relationships with both the patients and their families. It was one of the highlights of my experience.
Interacting with local therapists and the physiatrist, I gained an understanding of the system in the Philippines. One contrast between physiotherapy in the Philippines and the UK was the widespread use of electrotherapy for almost every patient treated in the department. It was fascinating to see the differences in the development and delivery of physiotherapy treatments in comparison to the UK.
The lack of resources and staff for the huge volume of patients attending the hospital (which has a no refusal policy) was startling.
It was a humbling experience to see how grateful patients were for any treatment they received and how determined they were to ensure they attended all appointments.
The warm nature of every member of physiotherapy staff that I encountered throughout my placement made me feel so welcome.
I actually celebrated my 21st birthday during my placement. The hospital staff got me a birthday cake and sang happy birthday to me in the department—an experience that I will always remember!
Some of the staff also took my two friends and I out on a city tour to show us the beautiful historical buildings in the area. They also took us out for dinner to a traditional Filipino restaurant. On our last day of placement, the staff provided us with printed t-shirts with the name of the hospital on them so that we would always have something to remember our experience by.
I found it really emotional coming to the end of the placement and saying goodbye to the patients.
All of these things made my placement such a unique and totally unforgettable experience.
On our first weekend, my friends and I travelled by boat to Guimaras, a nearby island said to be the ‘Mango Capital of the Philippines’. They grew the sweetest mangos in the world! We also went to a beautiful, secluded beach on the island to work on our tan.
On our second weekend, we travelled to Antique by mini bus with 10 other girls from the Work the World house. It was an action packed weekend! We trekked to a waterfall, had lunch in a river, toasted ourselves in a Kawa (giant steel bowl under which a fire was lit to heat the scented water), walked over a suspended bridge, went bouldering, and finished the day with a fish foot spa!
On the second day, we travelled by boat to Maralison Island which was the Instagram dream—white sand and clear turquoise sea. We were welcomed by the local children’s choir who sang several songs for us, reducing us all to tears! We then trekked up to the top of the island where we had the most spectacular view of the whole island, it was well worth the sweaty walk up in the heat.
It was an incredible weekend filled with unique experiences!
For our final weekend in Panay, we travelled to Isla Gigantes. Here we completed an island hopping tour like no other! Every stop on the tour wa breathtaking. A huge lagoon, a small private island (with amazing fish to see when snorkeling), a huge sand bar and a cute little island with a shop to get some snacks and drinks to refuel!
The next morning, our guide took us to a huge cave at the top of the island where all of the people on the island had to shelter for 24hours a few years previously when a typhoon hit! This trip was definitely one of the highlights of our time in the Philippines.
My advice would be to make the most of every opportunity. Make the effort to speak to and interact with all of the staff and patients that you meet. Take every opportunity offered to you, and although it may feel totally out of your comfort zone, immerse yourself in the local culture as much as you can.
You will only get out as much as you put into the experience and it will fly by faster than you will believe.