My two-week pharmacy placement in Phnom Penh was an amazing experience that I’ll always cherish.
I was nervous beforehand, especially since I was travelling there by myself and didn’t have a friend from home doing the placement with me. Upon meeting the staff at the airport however, all the nerves disappeared.
The Work the World staff at the house were all so welcoming and friendly, immediately making me feel at home and like I was living with family. The food was amazing, and I was so grateful for the caterer, as she specially created pescatarian meals for me. The house was very clean and tidy, and lovely to live in. The house and staff surpassed the expectations I had beforehand.
My first day of placement came along, and I could not have been more excited. Everyone I had met up until that point were very welcoming, so I couldn’t wait to meet all the hospital staff that I would be spending time with for the next two weeks.
I met the Pharmacy Department team and, immediately, everyone was enthusiastic about my joining. I spent time in the storerooms, and one nurse took me on a ward round, but most of my time was spent in the dispensary. There, I worked with local pharmacy students, taking in prescriptions from patients and doctors and dispensing the medication. Communicating with patients was a challenge as they only really spoke Khmer. It was, however, easy to communicate with patients via local pharmacists and other hospital staff, who all knew English much better than I had anticipated. This was a great relief!
During my time on placement, I made friends with the other Work the World healthcare students and staff at the hospital. Through these friendships, I was lucky enough to be invited along to spend a day in the ICU and another in the operating rooms. These were eye-opening experiences for me, especially since I had no experience in these departments back home. Some patients even had conditions that weren’t common in Australia. I’d definitely recommend taking up any opportunity to observe in other wards and departments during if it’s possible.
In the afternoons and on weekends, we had plenty of opportunity to go sightseeing and travel. Close to the Work the World house, I saw the Central Market, Royal Palace and the National Museum. These were very easy to get to via tuk tuk.
It was great immersing myself in the Cambodian culture and learning more about the country outside of work. I also travelled with the other students to Sihanoukville, southwest of Phnom Penh. We got there on the Friday night, and on the Saturday went to Koh Rong island via ferry. We were met with white sandy beaches and warm, crystal clear water. We spent the day relaxing on the beach, soaking in the warm sun and swimming in the ocean. It was an amazing way to spend a weekend.
I could not recommend Work the World more highly. It was an amazing way to learn more about pharmacy and what pharmacists do in another country. The memories I have made through this experience will definitely last a lifetime.