Being a West African myself, I chose Ghana as my destination because I knew it would feel exactly like home and it sure did! First impressions were that everyone was so loving and welcoming. It literally felt like I had known them for years and years.
The hospital orientation was great because myself and the other students were able to introduce ourselves to the staff that we would be placed with on the various wards. I chose to experience obstetrics and gynaecology for two weeks, A&E for one week and general medicine for one week. I enjoyed all three departments, but A&E tops them all! I learnt so much and saw so much.
Growing up, you hear many stereotypical statements of how “bad” hospitals in Africa are. But I disagree, I found that the principles are more or less the same; providing person-centred care, respecting the patients and listening to patients’ concerns. However, I feel as though they are very much restricted as healthcare in Ghana is not free, many people are left without jobs and staff are having to provide effective care to patients with a lack of facilities which is almost impossible.
Nobody quite seems to tell the full story of the challenges that these people are facing, and it is really sad. Some people have hospital insurance which is similar to the NHS, but this is only suitable for those who have jobs. People tend to refrain from coming into hospitals because families cannot afford to pay for treatment so this, unfortunately, means that by the time the patient comes into A&E their condition has worsened greatly and treatment could not really help, and as a result, leaves them fighting for their lives.
I learnt so much during my time in Takoradi.
Funnily enough, I didn’t know how to take a manual blood pressure. Here in the UK, I’ve found that taking blood pressure manually is usually for patients who are deteriorating or critically ill. On all of my placements in the UK, I was always shown how to use the dinamap to monitor vitals. But thankfully in Ghana I had so much practice. Also, the nurses had no problem with teaching me and they were very understanding in knowing that in the UK we have “machines for everything” as they described it.
My experience in Ghana will change the type of nurse I become.
In comparison to the UK, healthcare assistants (HCA) take on a lot of the one to one care with patients such as; personal care/toileting needs, making beds, and assisting the patients with their meals. Whereas in Ghana the families play such a big role as they take on all of these responsibilities.
My experience in Ghana will change the type of nurse I become. The experience left me feeling humbled and has made me a better person because all I can remember is that there are many people around the world whose lives are not as “easy” as mine.
In Ghana, the day shifts are for six hours which was nice because after placement each day we would go to the different beaches in Takoradi.
A typical week was fun-filled with going to the beaches on most days, the karaoke bar on a Friday, clubbing on a Saturday, and Sunday was a chilled day. In Takoradi, there are plenty of restaurants with a delicious selection of meals. Staying at Kakum National Park and going on a jet ski at Busua Beach were highlights of my trip.
I would say to anyone going out to Ghana for their elective; stick together with the others in the house. Everyone literally got on so well, it would make you think we had known each other for so long. At first, I was nervous because I came to Ghana alone and did not know anyone that was going to be in the house, but I am so glad I did it. It just shows you, if you want to do something in life… Go ahead and do it, don’t let nerves stop you!