My experiences working as a nurse abroad

Emilia McClymonton 14 July 2021
My experiences working as a nurse abroad

Emilia speaks about her nursing placement in Ghana and the things she learnt on the job.

Emilia is a nursing student from the University of Portsmouth. In 2020, she travelled to Takoradi in Ghana for a three-week nursing placement with Work the World. Emilia was keen to see the differences between healthcare in the UK and Ghana. Here’s what she had to say about her experience:

When the opportunity arose to do an elective placement abroad in Takoradi, Ghana, I felt it was a no-brainer. I thought the experience would benefit my professional development and provide me with the opportunity to immerse myself in a new culture.

On placement

Prior to my trip, I knew that the healthcare system in Ghana was going to differ greatly from the UK's in many aspects. My first impression of the hospital left me feeling really overwhelmed. It was bigger than I thought and felt crowded. It all felt surreal.

Very often people in Ghana were unable to afford care or had been unable to seek medical help until the later stages of their illness.  If people were unable to pay for treatment or their relatives were unable to pick up the necessary supplies from the hospital's store in order to move forward with their treatment plans, they did not receive the care. The system felt very different to the NHS service we’re accustomed to here.

When I started my placement, the hospital staff and patients made me feel really welcome which made the new environment easier to get used to. People were eager to answer any clinical questions I had. The more I asked, the more I got out of the experience. 

I was able to assist with many nursing tasks and responsibilities, such as carrying out personal care, taking observations, redressing surgical wounds, preparing IV medications, inserting catheters, performing chest compressions, and airway management. Wherever I was in the hospital, I was always able to take the opportunity to learn more and develop existing skills. 

An incident that stayed with me was when a patient was rushed into A&E after a road traffic accident. Unfortunately, despite everyone’s best efforts, they were unable to save the patient. It was a tough situation to come to terms with. But, being a nurse, you naturally build resilience over time to adapt to the stresses of the profession.

“ naturally build resilience over time to be able to adapt…”

I definitely built my confidence as a result of the experience. If I could, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Work the World specialise in creating overseas nursing placements in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Their destinations provide eye-opening insight into the challenges associated with delivering healthcare in the developing world.

Emilia McClymonton 14 July 2021