I had been working in Southampton for 7 years as a Registered Adult Nurse when I decided that I wanted to do something completely different. I wanted to get some experience in a low-resource healthcare system and see a part of the the world I hadn’t seen before. I decided to apply for a career break, which is when I looked into Work the World. I’d heard great things about them from colleagues and friends!
After speaking to the team at Work the World, I chose to travel to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. I registered for my placement and received a call within a couple of hours. We talked through what the next steps would be and as soon as I registered and I was given access to my MyTrip—Work the World’s online placement planner. The planner had an interactive timeline indicating when certain things needed to be actioned, which was a huge help. The portal had a handy system that highlighted sections in either red or green, depending on whether or not they had been completed. It was a great visual aid to see how much progress had been made in the placement planning process.
The Work The World (WtW) team were great; from pre-departure phone calls covering exactly what to expect, to tailoring my placement exactly as I wanted. The team were extremely accommodating, and very helpful at all times.
I arrived on a Sunday afternoon and a member of the WtW team was there to meet me and take me back to the WtW house. The following day, the team took me through my city orientation, which was invaluable. They showed us things like where the Dala Dala (public minibus) stop was, and took us on the route we had to use to get to the hospital each day.
When we arrived at the hospital, the team introduced me to the Head of Nursing and we confirmed my placement areas. Once everything was finalised, we went on a tour of the city. The team first showed us where to find all the local amenities, like ATMs and Bureau de Change. We explored local shops and walked to Coco Beach, which is a stretch of beach just down the road from the WtW house. We also went to a phone shop where we bought cheap Tanzanian phones or sim cards to make contacting each other and the team easier while we were overseas. We had a wonderful lunch together at a local restaurant, which was excellent end to the orientation.
In the HospitaL
The journey to placement each morning took roughly half an hour. Renowned as one of the best teaching hospitals in Tanzania, It was a great place to be based.
My placement consisted of one week on Neuro Intensive Care, one week on the Neuro Wards and theatres, and two weeks working in the Emergency Department. The staff were friendly, and they were interested in hearing why I wanted to come to Tanzania and what my thoughts were on the country so far. I tried to speak as much Swahili as possible, to both the staff and service users, which went a long way!
The Emergency Department was one of the most memorable departments I worked in while in Dar es Salaam. I assisted with many acute, deteriorating patients, some of whom had been in motorcycle accidents.
In the evenings after placement, we sat outside in the lovely seating area at the front of the WtW House. My housemates and I chatted about our days and telling stories. I met people from many different countries, England, America, Australia and the Netherlands included.
One weekend, we visited the absolutely beautiful island of Zanzibar. From here, we visited Prison Island where we saw giant tortoises, one of which was 158 years old! We also visited Stone Town, went on an idyllic, island hopping boat trip around Zanzibar, and on the Sunday swam with Turtles—an experience of its own. Following that, we headed back to Stone Town to do some souvenir shopping. On another weekend, we took the short boat trip across to Bongoyo Island, which was equally idyllic.
Choosing to visit Tanzania as a Nurse was the best decision I’ve ever made. It was a life-changing experience and hugely humbling. Of course it was difficult at times, sometimes even shocking due to the sheer lack of resources, but I came away with a renewed sense of perspective. The local people were wonderful, and I made plenty of new lifelong friends on my trip.
If you’re considering doing something like this, but you are not sure or slightly apprehensive, I would say, wholeheartedly, do it—you’ll never look back!