My experience on a Work the World program in Kathmandu, Nepal was nothing short of outstanding.
I am so glad I chose to undertake a placement in Nepal. It exposed me to the differences in healthcare and culture between Australia and a developing country, and the accommodation and staff at the Work the World house were incredible.
I decided to travel to Nepal because I knew that in doing a placement there, I would see the realities of healthcare in the developing world.
My clinical placement
My placement was in four familiar areas, so I was able to focus on my clinical interests, based around the care of women and babies.
The hospital I spent my placement in handled cases completely differently compared to Australian practices.
Doctors put almost every labouring woman on a drug that stimulated contractions, even if they were already contracting well naturally. There was no analgesia whatsoever. There was no patient consent, and local staff offered no explanation to patients before, during, or after procedures.
These things were so different from Australian healthcare that they would probably be against most hospitals' policies. Women seemed to be treated with less respect in Nepal, and there was no emphasis on fostering the post birth connection between the mother and baby.
Doctors didn’t allow women to give birth naturally, and almost every woman had an episiotomy. This was the case even if it was the woman’s second, third, or even fourth baby.
Doctors were in charge of everything, and there was little (if any) empathy or sympathy for pain. The main focus was to get the baby out.
Despite this, there didn’t seem to be many issues in the hospital. All the women and their families seemed satisfied with the care they received.
In Australia, we occasionally see violence against staff members for the pettiest things, whereas in Nepal patients were just grateful to have their baby out safe and sound.
Local people were fascinated by us ‘tourists’, but always welcoming. They were so thrilled to hear that we had come to Nepal to spend time learning about their healthcare system.
There are many highlights of my placement in Nepal, but if I had to pick one thing, it would be women’s faces when they saw their babies for the first time.
Us Australian midwives brought babies to their mothers and showed them the gender. We let them have a cuddle with their babies too. This was not a priority for nurses in Nepal, and us taking this small extra step seemed to made a big difference in the connection between mum and baby.
One weekend some of my housemates and I visited Pokhara — a green city in a valley to the north. It was absolutely amazing.
We went paragliding, hiked up to a mountaintop Peace Pagoda, kayaked across the huge lake at the centre of the city, and hiked to the top of Sarangkot to see the sunrise. On our last night, we visited a restaurant located in the middle of Pokhara. The food and drinks were amazing, and spending time with the other students was a lot of fun.
If you’re thinking about going to Nepal for your placement, make the most of everything.
Exposure to the local way of doing things will help you realise how privileged you are in your own country. You’ll also come to appreciate how hard local healthcare professionals work to make sure patients are looked after.
I would 100% recommend a Work the World placement to anyone who wants an authentic overseas experience.