Stepping outside of your familiar hospital setting and into an entirely different healthcare system is going to be disorientating at first. From using unfamiliar equipment to encountering diseases you’ve only ever read about in text books, there’s no doubt you’ll be faced with a host of new experiences.
Working with people you’ve never met before in an unfamiliar setting is a sure way to boost your communication skills. You’ll have to listen to, empathise and interact with people from different cultural circumstances, which will enormously help with your future approach to patient care and professional relationships. Back at home, some students even find themselves working alongside professionals from the country in which they undertook their placement!
When your interpersonal skills start to increase, so will your confidence. Asking questions and being proactive on placement will soon become second-nature, and is really welcomed by the hospital staff. As a result, students often say they felt more included and valued in their overseas teams than they did day-to-day at home:
‘I was asked questions as an equal, not as a student. This really boosted my confidence and helped me to feel like I was a valuable member of the team.’ - Catherine Napper
You can read the rest of her experience here.
3. Breadth of Knowledge
Working in a low-resource, overseas hospital will give you a richer understanding of your own practise and Western healthcare systems. Observing specialists use home-made equipment or synthesise painkillers from scratch will stretch your current perspective and in some cases take you back to the very basics. You’ll also encounter different diseases and vastly different methods of treating them which will be dependent on the socio-economic factors of the country.
Getting distance from your regular context and experiencing elements of your practise in a new environment often reveals what you’re truly passionate about. Perhaps you’ll discover that you want more community based experience back home, or that working in an orphanage has re-ignited your interest in paediatrics. You might even plan to return to your country of choice - but next time as a professional.
5. Boosting the CV
Everything you’ve read in this post so far can be put on your CV, and looks impressive. Your skill set will be grounded with real experience that sets you apart from those who stayed at home, and will give you something you can talk about passionately in an interview.
While we’re not promising you’ll get a job offer in Ghana, you will be building professional relationships with the hospital staff and the students you’ll be living and working with. It’s never too early to start building up an international network of contacts, and you never know what effect it might have on your future!
We also aim to support your clinical growth as much as possible; our team of experts will make sure you’re fully prepped and organise clinical teaching sessions and language lessons in the Work the World house.