I had always been eager to combine my studies with travel, so organising my physiotherapy placement with Work the World was a no brainer given the fantastic reviews other students had left.
I knew that travelling to Hue, Vietnam would take me out of my comfort zone, but I was ready for the challenge!
I decided to travel prior to starting my placement, seeing the wonderful sights of Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, the Mekong River and Ho Chi Minh City.
This was a great opportunity to become accustomed to Vietnamese culture before going into the hospital. And Work the World were great at accommodating this.
Learning about the country’s history and observing the cultural differences between the North and South was fascinating.
I received such a warm welcome from the Work the World team when I arrived at the house, I instantly felt at home.
The house was beautiful; the swimming pool was a massive perk!
My housemates and I would look forward to an afternoon dip to cool off during our lunch break before going back into the hospital.
No ask was too much for the Work the World team
The food at the Work the World house was delicious with plenty of choice, and that’s coming from a picky eater! No ask was too much for the Work the World team, they were constantly checking in to ensure that everyone was enjoying their time in Hue.
My first day nerves were quickly put to rest by how friendly the physiotherapy team were. Having already had an orientation around the hospital and with current students to show me the ropes, it was a comfortable environment to go into.
The overcrowding in the hospital astonished me. It was common for patients to share a bed between two, and bays were just small rooms with up to 6 beds in.
Spending the majority of my time in the physiotherapy department, I appreciated the tranquillity (and air conditioning!) that the gym provided, away from the hustle and bustle of the main hospital.
For the most part, patients presented with familiar complaints that I would see daily in the UK – including ACL repairs and lower back pain. I was also fortunate to see numerous patients with spinal cord injuries, a condition commonplace in Vietnam due to high rates of road traffic collisions.
Being able to observe how treatment varied overseas was particularly valuable. Unlike the UK, I found that evidence-based practice didn’t have as much emphasis in Vietnam, with physiotherapists using long-established techniques such as ultraviolet light therapy and cupping therapy to deal with their patient’s complaints.
In a particularly memorable case, I was lucky enough to be able to assist with the treatment of a patient who had a dense hemiparesis to his upper limb following a stroke.
This encouraged me to think out of the box and get creative
Limited to a gym with little equipment, generating treatment ideas was a challenge. This encouraged me to think out of the box and get creative – I ended up clearing a coat stand of its white jackets and using this with some rubber hoops in my therapy!
The supervisors were always inquisitive and keen to hear of the techniques I had been taught at university.
Travelling to Hoi An and Phong Nha during my weekends was definitely a highlight! These trips were easy to organise with advice from the Work the World team and recommendations from previous students.
I had the trip of a lifetime in Vietnam! I came home with newfound confidence and totally widened perspectives.
I appreciate that making the decision to go is nerve-wracking, but I honestly couldn’t recommend it enough – you will have the best time with Work the World!