When I initially explored my options for an elective placement, all I knew was that I was looking for an opportunity that gave me a whole new nursing experience.
When I contacted Work the World, I informed them that I was undertaking my BSC Nursing Degree in Mental Health and they advised me of the best placement for that field; a choice between Sri Lanka and Nepal.
The minute Work the World gave me details of what the Nepal placement could offer me, I was sold! It was the fact that I would be based at a teaching hospital that regularly accommodates international healthcare students and that I had the flexibility to spend some of the placement experiencing other areas of nursing.
Not only did I choose Psychiatry as a placement choice, I also selected Accident and Emergency, Pediatric and Drug and Alcohol; areas of nursing I had never experienced before!
It was very overwhelming at first; low resourced and overcrowded environment (families were sleeping in the hallways of the hospital), the language barriers, the nursing practice, what was socially etiquette in their culture; it was all so different to the UK.
The staff at the hospital, the nurses and the students, welcomed me with open arms and with that, all my anxieties disappeared. I have never met such friendly people in all my life - this made the placement one I will never forget and an honor to have experienced.
Clinical practice in Nepal was very different to clinical practice in the UK. I would say the main thing I developed from my placement was resilience.
Nepal is a poverty-stricken country and very poor. In healthcare, patients and the families have to pay for all of their treatments. Often, they could not afford the costs for medication and I watched patients and their families being turned away, as there was nothing more they could offer. This was just heartbreaking and something I will never be able to comprehend, as I know no different to living in a world where the NHS supports mine and my family’s physical and mental health. This makes me so unbelievably grateful for what our country has while at the same time so sad for countries like Nepal.
They also do not have a community service for those with mental health like we do in the UK and so when patients leave hospital, they are left exposed to society, with no further support. I created a self-help leaflet that patients could complete so it was personal to them and they could turn to in times of distress.
The students and staff helped me to translate the content into Nepalese and also assisted me in explaining how it can alleviate anxiety to the patients on the ward. The staff/students supported what I had done and stated that they would continue to use it in the future for other patients who struggle with anxiety management. I felt rewarded with pride and gratitude at being able to make even a little difference to these people’s lives.
There was the opportunity to go to different parts of the country on weekends and explore the local surrounding areas in the evenings. Nepal was such a cultural experience for me; I visited all the temple sites and spiritual grounds which was amazing.
I also love to hike, so took the chance to trek parts of the Himalayas and take in the beautiful mountainous views. The staff at the Work the World house were so incredibly helpful, if you were interested in visiting a place; they would do all they could to help.
The best thing that I did was Chitwan National Park, I loved seeing all the wild, native animals - rhinos, elephants, crocodiles, zebra and tigers!
Back at the house, we were offered Nepalese language classes which I took part in and loved - great for when you’re on practice or talking to the locals!
If you’re thinking about doing an overseas placement - do it! It’s the best thing I have ever done, I loved every minute of it and learnt so much from it. I have made friends that I will cherish forever and memories I will never forget. I just wish I would do it all again!