I had about five weeks left until I was due to depart for my elective, but when it fell through I tried frantically to find another placement.
I ended up speaking to some friends who had used Work the World the year before, and they came thoroughly recommended.
After looking through the list of Work the World’s destinations, Mexico really stuck out to me.
It wasn’t somewhere I had previously considered. This was partly because of my lack of Spanish speaking skills.
That said, Work the World offered an additional language course as well which really appealed to me.
It was really useful that they were able to sort out an elective for me on such short notice.
I was travelling on my own, so I wanted to make sure there were opportunities to meet other students in a similar boat as me.
Work the World let me know that there would be other students in the Work the World house at the same time as me, which was really helpful.
Before I travelled, a member of Work the World’s team called me to discuss what I hoped to achieve from my time in Mexico.
I asked to spend time in the emergency department, mainly working with adults. Work the World easily arranged this for me.
My experience in the hospital
I was in the main area patients went to when first admitted to the hospital.
There were similarities in the treatments, as you would expect. But there were often differences in how staff dealt with sensitive issues. For example, recently deceased patients lying in beds next to other patients fully aware of what was going on.
When patients were aggressive or severely confused, they were sometimes tied to beds with bandages.
To me, things seemed chaotic, yet local staff always seemed to know what was going on.
I was working in a public hospital which was extremely overcrowded and underfunded.
Patients had treatment and then returned to recover in the corridor. Some even slept in the corridors.
There were stark differences in protocols too, such as dealing with sharps or hand washing.
Simple things like drug shortages were a constant battle with the delivery of care.
Furthermore, there was an overwhelming presence of diseases such as DKA and encephalopathy. More so than I had experienced back home.
Patients were so much less empowered than we are in the UK. They often had to put up with pain, and rarely complained about wait times.
I want to be clear that seeing these differences is what made the experience so interesting and educational.
I would also like to add that the hospital staff were phenomenal, and worked hard, tirelessly.
The team I spent time with in the hospital were a pleasure to be around.
We got on so well, and despite the English/Spanish language barrier, we always had a laugh. They were so welcoming and encouraging in all aspects of my time there.
My time in Mexico
The people of Mexico were lovely.
I joined a local gym. The staff were always keen to have me there, and they explained everything in English.
Taxi drivers were friendly and seemed to want to chat too.
Having the Work the World house to come back to was great. It meant I was set up from day one.
The team told me how everything was going to pan out. They showed me how I should be realistic about what to expect, how to get places, barriers I might face, and so on.
Living with students who were already on their placements eased my stay. They gave me many nuggets of wisdom.
I became more confident whilst on placement. Partly because of the exposure I had, and partly thanks to how welcomed I felt.
Travelling the country
We had a fair few good trips away to different towns and beaches.
We saw some local ruins and swam in the Cenotes (freshwater cave pools). It was really cool.
The areas surrounding Merida have a lot to offer.
We went to Cancun for one weekend, to Isla Mujeres for another. In Isla Mujeres we drove golf buggies around the island which was really cool.
Mexico is picturesque. It has amazing culture (and incredible food). It really is worth the visit.
Make the most of living somewhere new. Don’t just be a tourist — do what the locals do wherever you can.