At the end of my first year, I decided that I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and embark on an adventure that would help me develop as a pharmacy student. I wanted to complete a voluntary placement abroad but I was unsure of how to go about planning it.
However, after spending some time researching my options, Work the World were the obvious choice as I had read lots of positive reviews from other healthcare students and I was interested in a lot of the destinations that they had to offer.
In the end, I decided to choose Kathmandu as the destination to complete my placement. I wanted to experience a part of the world I had never been to before and I had a desire to see the different temples, sights and monuments that I’d heard so much about.
When I arrived in Kathmandu, I was apprehensive and nervous about being in a very unfamiliar setting. But, I instantly spotted a member of the Work the World team who welcomed me and took me to the house I would be staying at for the next two weeks.
After meeting the Work the World team and the other students at the house, I completed my orientation day in the heart of Kathmandu and I was ready for my first day of placement at the hospital.
When I arrived at the hospital, I was given a tour of the entire site and I was pleasantly surprised by the facilities, even though it was clear that the hospital had limited resources in areas such as the pharmacy department.
Meeting the pharmacy team was fantastic as they were just as happy to see me as I was to see them.
On my first day, the pharmacist that I spent most of my time with was excellent in teaching me about the operation of the pharmacy department and took me through the entire dispensing process. Having worked in a community pharmacy back at home, I was really interested in this as it was fascinating for me to compare the differences in how this process operates.
For example, there were no computers to print medication labels which meant that patients were given their medication without any real consultation or information on how to take their treatment effectively.
Whilst on my placement, one of the biggest differences I noticed was how often antibiotics were prescribed, which is not anywhere near as extensive in the UK. The types of antibiotics that were being prescribed were also very general and specific treatment options for particular infections were not included, which highlighted that a complete diagnosis had not been made.
I saw a wide variety of cases that included different types of cancer, tropical diseases, extremely preterm conditions and respiratory infections.
On the ward rounds that I completed with different professionals, I saw a wide variety of cases that included different types of cancer, tropical diseases, extremely preterm conditions and respiratory infections.
However, as a pharmacy student, I was interested in how these conditions were treated and I learnt a lot about the way different wards operated when it came to treating these conditions with limited supplies and limited medicines. What was really nice to see though, was the level of care the doctors and nurses provided to the patients was still of a very high standard.
During the afternoons after placement, I would spend time with other students travelling around Kathmandu to see different temples and stupas and explored the breathtaking Thamel district with excellent shops, places to eat and an incredible atmosphere.
One of the regrets I have about going to Nepal was not going for long enough!
On the weekend that I was there, a group of us travelled to Pokhara. Spending a night 5500ft above sea level in Sarangkot, waking up to see the sunset, boating on Phewa lake, hiking up to a Peace Pagoda and experiencing the nightlife in Pokhara were all personal highlights.
I would urge any pharmacy student to complete a placement abroad. The experiences you gain from going out of your comfort zone and immersing yourself in a different way of life are a fantastic opportunity to create unforgettable experiences that you will never forget.