University of Sheffield 2023

Dentistry, Nepal Kathmandu

I chose to travel overseas for my clinical placement, mainly because I wanted to travel to Asia. My 4th-year elective was a great opportunity to do that. It meant I got to see dentistry in a different country too.

When we were looking into travelling abroad for our placement, we knew wanted to go with a company that sorted everything out. We found Work the World, and out of their destination options for dentistry electives, Kathmandu was the obvious choice for me.


I hadn’t done a lot of travelling before heading to Kathmandu. In fact, I hadn’t been out of Europe until the year prior to my elective. But I felt prepared by the time I was due to fly out.

"We got a sense of the liveliness of the city as soon as we stepped out of the airport."

We landed at night, so we didn’t get the full picture of Kathmandu until the next morning, but we got a sense of the liveliness of the city as soon as we stepped out of the airport. We went to the Work the World house and had our orientations and got a chance to settle in.


The next morning we went for an induction in the dental hospital. Before I travelled, I thought the equipment and practices would be dramatically different from the UK. But there were a lot of parallels — the hospital was split across multiple floors and departments were split out similarly. There was even a room where students could practice on dummy heads.

"There was also a noticeable lack of preventative dentistry."

There were differences though. They were around equipment sterilisation protocols and patients’ ability to afford treatment. There was also a noticeable lack of preventative dentistry.


The difference we were most shocked by was the fact that anaesthesia wasn’t typically used during fillings. In the UK, most patients would be given anaesthesia, even for something as routine as a filling. That said, if a patient arrived in agony, they would occasionally administer anaesthetic.

"Another major difference was the way root canals were performed..."

Another major difference was the way root canals were performed. In the UK, we have to use a rubber dam to isolate the tooth. This is so that sodium hydrochloride doesn’t leak into the patient’s mouth when we’re cleaning out the tooth. Whereas in our placement hospital in Kathmandu, they just held the aspirator close to the tooth — not something we would be allowed to do in the NHS.

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In the evenings when we weren’t on placement, we would either be back at the Work the World house socialising with our housemates or out and about in Kathmandu.

"My only regret is that we didn’t travel for longer than two weeks."

The vibe in the house was chilled, everyone was lovely and we all got on. My only regret is that we didn’t travel for longer than two weeks. We ate at restaurants and went out to bars — it was a lot of fun. It was Nepali New Year while we were out there too, so we went out to some of the local clubs that night.


I was in Kathmandu for two weeks, so I had an entire weekend free to go travelling in Nepal. We went to a place called Nagarkot, then visited ancient squares and temples, like Durbar Square, and went to see the view from the top of Chandragiri Hills. It was incredible.


Travelling with an organisation like Work the World is great because all of the placement logistics are taken care of for you. And when you arrive, their in-country team will take you to the Work the World house and they’re there with you 24/7. It just makes you feel confident in the placement itself. I wouldn’t hesitate to book a trip if you’re thinking about it.


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