I chose Ghana for my elective placement as we (as student doctors) are lucky to have the unique opportunity to experience healthcare around the world. For me personally this comes with the responsibility of making the most of this opportunity and learning as much as I can including how other cultures handle healthcare.
When my elective was approaching I was drawn to Africa and I knew I wanted to go alone in order to meet new people. I decided to go with Work the World and asked to be placed in OBG in Takoradi.
When I arrived in Ghana I wasn‘t shocked - things are very different than at home, but I was prepared and expected it to be different. I had to get used to the fact that I was there to learn rather than change anything, and in the end I can say I learned a lot. Not only about healthcare in Ghana but also about the people, the country and everything around it. I got to know Ghana for real and not just from a “holiday perspective“.
Some situations in the hospital were more challenging than others, but most of the time I was just amazed by how inventive everybody was in solving problems and handling limited resources. I did two weeks in A&E and two weeks in OBG, it was important to me to be placed within these two specialities as they are so different from home.
I decided to go alone as I felt like after nearly 5 years in medical school I needed a new challenge and was also really keen on meeting new people. In the end I was proud of myself for going there alone, boarding a plane and flying to a country even a continent I had never been to before. And I found good friends which I hope to stay in contact with for a long time.
I was certain that I wanted to experience this adventure on my own, but knowing I was definitely going to meet people, have a safe place to stay and somebody to turn to was very reassuring. There were highs and lows but having the support of the organisation was great.
Back home I have a different appreciation of most things (even a pair of fresh gloves!), plenty of amazing and unique memories and a blue home away from home.