An overseas placement is the best way for you to gain insight into how healthcare differs around the world. Our elective placements also provide the opportunity to travel to some of the most beautiful places on the planet.
Getting in front of interesting cases and practices in one of our city-based partner hospitals will be one of the most memorable experiences of your life. But to get the full, unedited picture of low-resource healthcare you need to look further afield.
This is where our Village Healthcare Experiences come in.
Village Healthcare ExperiencES
On a Village Healthcare Experience (VHE), you’ll get out of the city and fully immerse yourself in rural life.
To give you some idea of what rural means, we operate in communities in the jungles of Sri Lanka, the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains in Nepal, and on tribal islands in the Philippines to name a few.
Accompanied by your personal Work the World guide and interpreter, you’ll live in a close-knit community for a week. It’s your chance to embrace the local way of life and see exactly how care is delivered in smaller clinics and hospitals beyond the city limits.
How it Works
Before undertaking your VHE, you will spend at least two weeks on your main placement in the city of whichever country you’ve chosen to travel to. You can read more about how those work, here.
Your placement in the city will end on Friday, and on Sunday we’ll pick you up and take you directly to the village. During your city-based placement, you’ll live in a big house with other Work the World students. In the village, however, you’ll be welcomed into a family home selected by us. The family will treat you as one of their own and, along with your guide and interpreter, will act as an intermediary between you and village life at large.
"Our Work the World guide was fantastic. He looked after us all week and helped us communicate with the local villagers. The language lessons we’d had the previous weeks at the Work the World house were also extremely helpful, allowing us to interact more meaningfully." - Jonathan Doyle, Nepal.
You’ll spend your mornings with local health professionals in the village’s rural health outpost, clinic, or hospital (it varies village to village). This will be a totally different experience from what you’ll have seen the city. The city-based hospitals are still often low on resources, but the rural village clinics are on another level altogether. Some of even the most basic needs can’t be fulfilled here.
Seeing such a lack of resources will also go some way toward explaining why cases in the city are often so advanced. Little can be done to detect, diagnose and treat conditions at the village level. Villagers are also reluctant to travel miles from the village to the city to seek care, so they leave seeking adequate treatment until it’s absolutely necessary.
That said, local healthcare providers are expert at making do with what they have. You’ll learn the true meaning of resourcefulness if you’re paying attention.
"I saw children suffering from severe Hand, Foot and Mouth disease with large lesions on their faces and mouths. This was eye-opening, as it wasn’t something I’d seen back in the UK. Conditions like this would normally be diagnosed and treated much earlier." - Radha Mehta, Philippines
Ayurvedic Healthcare Week
If you travel to Sri Lanka, you can add the Ayurvedic Healthcare Week to the end of your placement. The Ayurveda Week is similar to a VHE in many ways, but there’s a difference when it comes to the clinical experience. Regarding the former, you’ll spend mornings in a small ayurvedic hospital learning about and helping to administer traditional Sri Lankan medicine. The doctor here is a skilled healer who creates and administers medicines made from plants and barks found in the forest.
"We got involved by helping make some of the treatments, such as cooking oil in a big pot, crushing willow bark, leaves and bamboo. This concoction would go into the treatment they were using; they would use these leaves, bark and oils, and wrap it in a bandage on the area that needed treating. The doctor also had a big stack of old cards, where he had all of his recipes and potions for the medicines he was using, which had been passed down from generation to generation. These were absolutely fascinating!" - Ashley Lowrey, Sri Lanka
Your afternoons are free for you to enjoy the typical local cultural pursuits and learning about the community.
You could learn to cook local specialities, weaving techniques, receive blessings from Buddhist monks, visit wildlife rescue centres, see temples dedicated to the Hindu deities Shiva and Vishnu, go fishing with local fishermen, milk buffaloes, visit village shamans, learn bread making, go island hopping, cycle through sugarcane plantations, learn traditional drumming and dancing, swim in waterfalls, relax on unspoilt beaches, canoe down jungle rivers, visit local gin distilleries, visit village schools, explore ruined castles, go on wild elephant safaris, get massages at ayurveda spas… you get the idea.
"One afternoon we went to visit the traditional healer. When we arrived, we were directed to a small room. Inside was the healer, his two wives (as is customary here) and their babies. The healer burned incense and chanted, then offered some amazing predictions for our futures. I was pleased to learn that I was to become a qualified doctor somewhere between the end of my twenties and beginning thirties, and that I will marry around that time!" - Annelot Lourijsen, Tanzania
We also offer a one-week Intensive Spanish Course if you’re thinking about travelling with us to Mexico. The course focuses on both everyday phrases and clinical terminology, helping you learn more from patients and staff on your hospital placement.
Spending your final week in one of our partner villages will probably be the highlight of your trip. We say this with confidence because we can back it up.
"If someone was planning on going away with Work the World, I would absolutely insist that they do the Village Healthcare Experience. It makes you realise the difference between rural and urban areas and facilities. In the cities, people don’t have to walk 6-7 miles on the off-chance they might see a doctor, knowing may not even get help or medication because they don’t have the money." - Claire Dyer, Ghana
If you want to find out more about our Village Healthcare Experiences, or indeed about our overseas elective placements more generally, get in touch today by completing the short enquiry form.