I decided to do my elective placement in Cambodia because I was aware of the country’s history and I was intrigued to see how the healthcare system would differ from the UK’s.
I also wanted to gain more knowledge about caring for patients with various illnesses and diseases, as well as gaining more confidence in communicating with patients who don’t speak English.
I completed 3 weeks in the emergency department and 1 week in the maternity department in the hospital in Phnom Penh.
The hospital itself was very big and very busy. From the forecourt to the corridors, it was filled with people moving around.
I noticed that a lot of their equipment had been donated to them from other countries.
Some areas of the hospital looked very modern, something that we would see in the UK. But other areas looked old and underfunded. I noticed that a lot of their equipment had been donated to them from other countries.
The emergency department was spacious, with around 13 trolleys lined up inside for patients to lay on. The maternity department had rooms for up to 8 patients to sleep in. The patients’ family members would often sleep on the floor under the beds!
The biggest difference was that healthcare was not free. Everyone who came to the hospital had to pay for the treatment they received. Patients even had to pay for every pair of gloves used when treating them! This was very surprising to me and made me consider how many pairs of gloves we go through in a day in the UK.
Having to pay for treatment often meant that some patients didn't receive the care that they needed because they were unable to afford it.
One case I will never forget was a man who had been involved in a serious traffic accident and desperately needed a CT scan. His family were unable to pay for it so he went without. This was very challenging to witness.
The hospital staff were extremely friendly and always up for teaching me new things.
In the emergency department, staff worked 24-hour shifts and would do anything to help their patients. This even included donating their own blood when a patient was in need of a blood transfusion!
Being able to spend time in the maternity department was very interesting. One thing I looked forward to was the baby washing every morning. Family members would wait outside for us to finish washing their baby and were always so grateful. I was also able to observe women giving birth.
In the evenings we would often explore Phnom Penh. The Work the World house had lots of information about what we could do and there was even a book with recommendations from past students.
On Thursdays the Work the World team would cook an amazing BBQ for us and we would all sit and eat together outside.
On the weekends, we would travel to other parts of Cambodia. This included going to Siem Reap to see the amazing temples.
On our last weekend, we travelled to the beautiful island of Koh Rong Sanloem where we were able to relax on the gorgeous beaches, and soak up the sun.
I made so many new friends from all over the world
Completing my elective placement overseas was the best decision I have ever made. I made so many new friends from all over the world, including the ones that live in Cambodia!
I will never forget this experience and what it has taught me. If you are considering travelling overseas for a placement then I would definitely recommend it.