by Carol

Where Are They Now?

Abbie is now a third-year Adult Nursing student at Edge Hill University. She spent four weeks in a Zambian Hospital in 2019 and now shares how her overseas nursing elective prepared her for working through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Going to Zambia was a life-changing experience that opened my eyes to healthcare in a way I could not imagine. 

Abbie Drake (DRAKE23424)Firstly, I worked in an environment that I had not been exposed to before. Lack of PPE, critically ill patients with conditions that would be managed efficiently in NHS hospitals and working alongside a new team. 

During this pandemic, it’s no secret that PPE is vital and in high demand. My placement in Zambia taught me to work in conditions with the little we had to protect ourselves. I feel privileged to be now working in the NHS during this time with the PPE that is recommended by Public Health England. Although it is argued that this is nowhere near enough, it is a lot more than what exists in Zambia, so for that I am thankful for all the organisations that have pulled together to help keep us protected. 

Working with critically ill patients knowing that there is little you can do for them due to lack of resources and education in Zambia was a challenge for me emotionally, especially when I knew if they were in an NHS hospital the care would be provided and they would be discharged within a week. I learnt how to mentally deal with this by providing the highest quality care I could.

During this pandemic we are blind when trying to understand how this virus works, we have some ideas due to other viruses, however without a vaccine we are working just like the healthcare workers did in Zambia, doing the best we can and, unfortunately, losing a lot of lives. 

During my time in Zambia, I witnessed more deaths than most healthcare professionals will in their whole careers. Abbie Drake (DRAKE23424)

I can’t say this has prepared me for working in this pandemic because I do believe losing a patient will never get easier, but it taught me how to deal with it healthily. I have to thank the Work the World staff and the friends I made during my overseas placement who provided me with so much support. We were a family and after each day we would come home to share our stories and debrief. Sometimes that involved laughing and other times it meant crying. Debriefing is very important for the mind and is something that is now naturally in my routine after a shift.  

As a second-year nurse stepping into the teaching hospital in the city of Lusaka, I felt the same nerves as a third-year nurse, nearly qualified, stepping into my last placement during this pandemic. Doing a placement in Zambia taught me how to cope with unfamiliar situations and I was lucky enough to be placed with an incredible team there, just like I am now.  

Abbie Drake (DRAKE23424)

My placement through Work the World taught me that teamwork is vital in healthcare and that with a great team, you can get through anything. It taught me that anyone can make a difference in healthcare with the right mindset, and most importantly it taught me that I will make a great nurse. 

Thank you Work the World for all the support you gave me during my stay. I am now prepared for my nursing career to start with any challenge life wants to throw at both me and our NHS. 

Read more about our nursing electives

Nursing Electives Abroad

Learn more about our nursing electives abroad. 

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