I spent my 3 week placement in an Emergency Medicine Department in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Why chose WTW?
It’s a busy life being a medical student isn’t it? Organising our elective placement was another thing on the list on top of placement, essay deadlines revision etc and I was wandering how on earth I was going to fit everything in. Also, friends had been telling me with annoyance that they were struggling to get responses from many of the hospitals they they had been trying to organise placements with- it sounded as if these developing countries didn’t regard their emails with the same level of importance that the students did! All in all I was dreading organising my elective!
A student who had arranged their placement did a presentation at my university and it was a great lecture to attend as it led me straight to Work the World. They were so helpful and organised my placement for me. In fact the most difficult decision I had was deciding where to go and what specialty to do!
Knowing that my elective was in safe hands, let me concentrate on my revision. WTW were always available to answer questions in the months leading up to departure (even the silly ones!) which was very helpful, and I’m not ashamed to say put my mum at ease! They picked me up from the airport, which was another thing less to worry about too.
Work the World house
The house in Oyster Bay was brilliant. It was lovely having a safe and secure environment to relax after placement. Meeting lots of other students from all over the world was great too. The staff were very welcoming and happy to help as much as they could any time of the day.
Thursday night barbecues were a chance to eat lots, learn some African dancing and let your hair down!
I chose to do my placement in Dar es Salaam to gain medical experience in a developing country and a different healthcare system. I specifically chose Emergency Medicine as my speciality because I’m interested in Emergency Medicine as a career potential, but I also thought it would expose me to a bigger repertoire of common disease, presentation and management.
I thought I had prepared myself for what I might see whilst on placement, but it turns out its impossible to prepare for!
There aren’t words to describe the highs and lows I experienced on placement. The poverty and resulting lack of resources were very frustrating and upsetting, but I was left in awe and thoroughly impressed by the doctors’ dedication towards their patients, and their enthusiastic, determined and committed attitudes towards learning; attributes I hope to portray throughout my medical career.
All the staff were very welcoming, and keen for me to get involved. They answered my questions honestly, which I was very grateful for, and allowed me to perform some clinical skills with their supervision. During my placement, I increased my confidence in examination, and experienced a lot of signs that would be extremely rare in the UK. Watching the differences in care that the patients received compared to the UK was, at times, quite difficult. Drugs such as adrenaline, morphine and salbutamol regularly ran out; equipment such as blood gas machines and ventilators commonly failed; doctors felt it was often safer (for example asthma exacerbations) to discharge patients home (who from my UK experience would spend at least 48 hours in hospital), than to be admitted to an overcrowded and understaffed ward, with no nebuliser or oxygen therapy available. It was eye-opening to say the least! That said, my placement was truly an invaluable experience and I know that it will certainly benefit my future practice with regards to my personal professional development and clinical experience.
The rest of my time in Tanzania was packed full with adventures! I went on a safari weekend in Mikumi National Park, with a group of other students. Excitingly we were the first group in the season to catch a glimpse of a leopard! We also got to hold a snake, which was scary, and watch the phenomenal night sky around a campfire.
A trip to Zanzibar is an absolute must! It is such a gorgeous place and very easy to organise with the help of WTW staff (who can advise hotels and ferries for you to cover all budgets!).
A trip to an African hair salon to get my hair-braided was a very cultural experience! I felt famous!
There are so many other things to do; cycle trips, spice tours, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. No matter how long you are there for, you wouldn’t be short for things to do!
So would I recommend an elective in Dar es Salaam?
Yes! It’s the perfect place if you want a busy hospital experience in a developing country where English is widely spoken. A wide choice of specialties are offered, and split placements can be arranged if desired, although id recommend sticking with one for at least 3 weeks so you can get settled and involved properly!
WTW are an extremely professional company who I would recommend to anybody needed help with their elective organisation! Thank you!