WHY GO ON A PHYSIOTHERAPY Placement ABROAD?
On your physiotherapy placement abroad you'll undertake a clinical placement in a low-resource hospital in the developing world. Tell us which destinations you want to travel to and the areas of physiotherapy you’re most interested in. Then, we’ll plan and build your placement to suit you.
A physiotherapy placement abroad lets you experience a healthcare system totally different from your own. You’ll even learn about practises you’ve never encountered before, like electrotherapy and wax baths. The experience also gives your CV a huge boost, helping you land your dream job.
In the hospital you’ll learn how economic and cultural considerations affect the provision of physiotherapy abroad. For example, a lot of rehabilitation equipment is handmade. Uncommon conditions you can see include clubfoot and spina bifida.
Our placements are also suitable for both students and professionals.
THE CLINICAL EXPERIENCE
Getting clinical experience abroad is all about challenging your knowledge and developing a fresh outlook on physiotherapy. You’ll quickly learn that things we take for granted in the UK — even basic gym equipment in some cases — are considered luxuries in the developing world.
Some things you could observe include:
- Handmade and improvised rehabilitation equipment
- Uncommon conditions like leprosy
- Heavy reliance on manual therapies
- Extremely late presentation and advanced cases
You will also see major differences in the fundamentals of physiotherapy too. For example, in many of our destinations, practises like ECT and TENS machines are widely used, and often a first port of call in treatment.
Hospital placements run Monday to Friday. That means your evenings and weekends are free to explore a country you might never have otherwise visited.
The service you get with us is end-to-end. That means we will support you before, during and even after your trip.
The service covers all bases, taking the stress out of planning a physiotherapy placement abroad.
Arrivals are every Sunday, 52 weeks of the year (you can travel whenever suits you), and durations start from one week.
YOU GET A ONE-TO-ONE SERVICE THAT INCLUDES:
- A tailored overseas elective in your choice of departments
- Comprehensive pre-trip preparation
- Accommodation in a private, catered house
- A 24/7 in-country team to support you
- Airport pickup
Whether travelling solo is your style, or you prefer the group atmosphere — weekend trips are a highlight. You'll make lots of like-minded friends in the Work the World house. And you'll all go on big weekend trips together — from trekking through the Himalayas to whitewater rafting down the Zambezi.
WHERE DO I START?
Talk with us. Our team will answer your questions and offer a clearer picture of what you can expect from a physiotherapy placement abroad.
Get in touch using the short enquiry form.
Book with confidence
We understand that the global situation is evolving every day. So now when you register for your overseas placement with Work the World, you can make unlimited changes to your travel dates, or your choice of destination.
Indonesia - Yogyakarta
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You’ll start comparing healthcare in Yogyakarta with the UK the instant you walk into the hospital. Things are different here in Indonesia — resources and equipment are limited, and you’ll see conditions you’ve only read about. You’ll even see how local physiotherapists use cleverly improvised techniques to help rehabilitate their patients. And while we can’t guarantee you’ll see leprosy rehabilitation, Indonesia has the world’s third highest number of new leprosy cases, so a placement here it’s a good bet.
Mexico - Merida
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On your placement in Merida, you’ll see that the physiotherapy team in our partner hospital help rehabilitate both inpatients and outpatients. Straight away, you’ll see that patients here are some of the region’s most economically disadvantaged. Many of these patients have had disabilities since birth, and many have left severe conditions untreated. You’ll see lots of different cases, and many of them will be post-surgical rehabilitation, post-birth recovery, or patients with long-term immobility. The standard of equipment here isn’t as high as it is in the UK, and you’ll see a lot of manual treatment because of this. You can now also get experience in a specialist psychiatric hospital, so please inquire for more information.
Vietnam - Hue
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15% of Vietnamese people live with a physical disability, so there’ll be no shortage of patients. Disabilities and injuries result from RTAs, stunted growth in childhood, some even from the Vietnam war. Many Vietnamese people strongly believe that exercise and mobility are directly linked to good health. Physiotherapy is a highly-respected profession because of this. Patients are much more likely to follow treatment plans too. Space is restrictive in the department, so local staff rely heavily on machinery as opposed to open movement. You’ll meet other student physiotherapists while you’re on the wards, adding another level to the learning experience.
Zambia - Lusaka
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On placement in Lusaka, you’ll see that there’s a lack of education around health, especially in Zambia’s most economically disadvantaged areas. Patients tend to delay treatment until it’s absolutely necessary. One of the major reasons being that all but the most impoverished patients have to pay for healthcare. So you’ll see some severely advanced conditions. The hospital even makes its own moulds and prosthetics, and you can go and see how this is done. You’ll get some interaction with local students too. This allows you to exchange stories with your Zambian peers, learning the differences between your training programmes. Lusaka offers one of the best physiotherapy placements abroad.
Cambodia - Phnom Penh
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On a physiotherapy elective in Cambodia, you’ll see all sorts of things that you rarely see in the UK. Based in a large public hospital (previously used to treat Buddhist monks) you’ll get insight into how physiotherapists in Cambodia treat high patient numbers with extremely limited resources. You can spend time across a range of departments including the out-patient department which operates with basic gym equipment as the hospital itself does not have a gym. Due to the huge amount of traffic in this large capital city, the majority of cases you’ll see will be RTA related injuries and associated orthopaedic conditions.
Nepal - Pokhara
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In Pokhara, you can do your physiotherapy elective placement in a specialised rehabilitation hospital. The hospital’s motto is “We take you back to an active life”, their aim being to help rehabilitate and educate patients to improve their quality of life. Local physiotherapists use practises you might not be used to, like lots of electrotherapy and wax therapy. There’s a lack of rehabilitation equipment here too, so physios lean more towards manual therapies than we do in the UK. Previous students have used tennis balls, bean bags, velcro, string, water bottles, and even matchsticks to help rehabilitate patients. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Pokhara.
Sri Lanka - Kandy
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If you do your physiotherapy elective in Kandy, you’ll get experience with local staff who actively promote patient interaction. Compared to what you’re used to at home, equipment is outdated in Sri Lanka. You’ll see how local physiotherapists have adapted to this by making and improvising their own equipment. The physiotherapy OPD here is busy, and local therapists often have to deal with three or four patients at a time. Spend time here and you’ll get experience with advanced cases, some you might not have seen before. Despite being understaffed, the system works for patients. This is because local therapists are passionate about helping their patients — just as we are in the UK. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Kandy.
Tanzania - Dar es Salaam
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On a physiotherapy placement abroad In Dar es Salaam, you’ll get the best of your experience in the physio department of our partner orthopaedic institute. In Tanzania, road safety and traffic etiquette are relaxed compared to what you’re used to. This has led to RTAs being Tanzania’s biggest cause of critical injury, so you’ll see plenty of RTA-related cases. You’ll see how long waiting lists can and do lead to severely advanced cases in the outpatient clinic. The hospital is actually a government institute, but it caters to private patients too. That said, you’ll see just how few patients can afford private care.
Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Dar es Salaam.
Nepal - Kathmandu
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Physiotherapy is quickly developing in Nepal, so you’ll find our physiotherapy student placements in Kathmandu eye-opening. The country’s focus on physiotherapy has shifted a lot over the last 10 years. To give you some idea, there were only 30 qualified physiotherapists in 2007. In 2012, there were 500. But even though physiotherapy is progressing, resources are still low. You’ll see improvised apparatus like makeshift wheelchairs and traction devices, but local therapists’ knowledge more than makes up for the shortfall in equipment. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Kathmandu.
Philippines - Iloilo
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On a physiotherapy placement in Iloilo, you’ll see all the contrasts between physiotherapy in the Philippines versus the UK. One example is how widespread the use of electrotherapy is — don’t be surprised if you see the vast majority of patients receiving this treatment. Another difference is that patients can often come for treatment more frequently. In our partner hospital patients can continue receiving treatment as long as they can afford to pay for it. Some stroke patients have been known to attend the clinic for more than two years. On the other hand, many patients don’t follow the prescribed home treatment plans — many simply can’t afford to take time off work. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Iloilo.
Ghana - Takoradi
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On your physiotherapy elective in Takoradi, you’ll see how a sense of community can help patients on their way to rehabilitation. The department’s gym fosters positivity and this motivates both patients and staff. You’ll spend most, if not all of your time with outpatients, as the majority of patients have to self-refer. A big part of the rehabilitation process here is counselling patients so they can continue with their treatment plans at home. Straight away, you’ll see that the department is under-resourced. The funds aren’t there to replace broken equipment, so staff have to improvise, doing what they can with what they have. Read stories from those who’ve already travelled with us to Takoradi.
"I was exposed to conditions I had not seen previously in the UK and observed a way of working life that you would not see within the NHS".
Megan Quigley, Teeside University 2020Read more
"The people were so friendly, the food excellent and the scenery unbelievably beautiful!"
Ellie Marok , University of Birmingham 2020Read more
"Many people only sought orthodox healthcare as a last resort."
Jake Melvin, University of East Anglia 2020Read more
"It was truly an amazing, yet emotional, experience – one that will be with me for life."
Rebekah Morris, Cardiff University 2020Read more
"I learnt so much both in my practical skills, care and compassion and ability to problem solve."
Chloe Dooley, Cardiff University 2020Read more
What do our physiotherapy placements offer?
A Work the World physiotherapy placement gives you the chance to undertake a clinical placement in the developing world. You will spend time in a low-resource hospital and see unfamiliar practices and advanced conditions. You can even choose the departments you want to rotate through. Learn more here.
What are the benefits of a Work the World physiotherapy placement?
The benefits of our physiotherapy placements include:
- Expanding your clinical knowledge and skill set
- Becoming more confident, independent and resourceful
- Making yourself more attractive to employers
- Doing some proper travelling
- Building your personal and professional network
- Sharpening your language and communication skills
- Renewing your perspective on the NHS
What countries can I travel to on a Work the World physiotherapy placement?
What kinds of cases will I see on a Work the World physiotherapy placement?
You will see cases like:
- Paediatric spina bifida
- Post-amputation rehabilitation
How long is a Work the World physiotherapy placement?
A physiotherapy placement is as long as you want it to be. Our minimum placement duration is one week, but students typically travel on their physiotherapy placement for 4 weeks. There is no upper limit to how long you can travel for.
What is a physiotherapy placement?
A physiotherapy placement is a clinical placement that physiotherapy students undertake as part of their degree. If you want to undertake your physiotherapy placement overseas, get in touch with us today.