I chose Cambodia for my midwifery elective placement because I knew the country’s diverse culture would ensure my experience of their healthcare system would be vastly different from my experiences at home in the UK.
I wanted to give myself the opportunity to experience healthcare in a completely different culture to broaden my abilities to care for a variety of women once I qualify as a midwife.
My first impression of the hospital was how busy it seemed to be, not only in maternity but throughout each department of the hospital.
Although I stayed in maternity for my four-week placement, I spent my time with several different midwives and obstetric staff which enabled me to gain a variety of experiences throughout their maternity unit.
During my elective placement, we were encouraged to participate with both day and night shifts in order to gain the best experience.
There were vast differences between the maternity care in the UK and Cambodia which ranged from the facilities available to the way women were cared for.
At the hospital I was placed, women were expected to pay for the care which was provided to them. I also found that, although similar to the UK, the midwives would provide the majority of care during labour, but it would be the doctors who would deliver the babies when that time came.
Although the facilities were surprising at first, compared to what we have in the UK, I soon got used to this and realised that this doesn’t stop the midwives providing the care women need.
This was an unforgettable experience which always put me in a good mood at the start of my shift.
One of my favourite memories during my placement in Cambodia was traditional baby washing, which is not something we routinely do in the UK. Each morning the grandparents or fathers would bring their babies, ranging from new-born to a few weeks old, to a room for the midwives and elective students to wash and weigh them. This was an unforgettable experience which always put me in a good mood at the start of my shift.
The maternity staff, students and Work the World team were a key part of my experience in Cambodia. Every single person wanted to teach me about their culture and how this can affect the way they provide maternity care. For example, in Cambodia women would be alone during labour without their partners or husbands. This would often mean that the students on their elective placement would be with the women providing comfort, which in the UK we would usually see partners doing.
During evenings and on the weekends we were able to explore Cambodia.
In the evenings we would often explore Phnom Penh, where the Work the World house is located. We would visit places near the house during the week and travel further afield at the weekends.
Whilst I was in Cambodia I had 3 weekends which I used to visit unforgettable destinations. The first weekend a group of us visited the beautiful island of Koh Rong where we went snorkelling to see the plankton, relaxed after our first week of placement and tried the local food for dinner in the evenings.
I also visited the famous temples in Siem Reap - a location not to be missed if you visit Cambodia.
it was an experience I will never forget.
I would encourage anyone who can, to undertake an elective placement abroad. I can honestly say it was an experience I will never forget.
Not only has it broadened my knowledge and enabled me to become a better midwife, but I have made memories that I will never forget and friends for life.