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Nursing Beyond Borders: My Eye-Opening Journey in Ghana with Work the World

Hey there, fellow adventurers and healthcare enthusiasts! My name is Katherine, and I’m a passionate second-year nursing student at Bournemouth University. I’m a proud mum to two absolutely adorable children! But here’s the magic – I’ve got an incredible supportive partner and a family that’s the wind beneath my wings. They rallied behind me, enabling me to seize the golden opportunity of a lifetime – an international placement in Ghana with Work the World. I’m thrilled to

share my incredible journey of discovery and growth during my placement. So, fasten your seatbelts as I take you through the heart-warming, eye-opening, and sometimes jaw-dropping experiences that have forever changed the way I view nursing and the world.

Choosing My Path: Tanzania vs. Ghana In my first year, the spark to embark on an international nursing placement was ignited within me. Second year rolled around, and with it, a dear friend who shared my enthusiasm for global nursing experiences. Together, we embarked on the journey of planning our adventure. At first, I was torn

between Tanzania and Ghana. The activities in Tanzania had me hooked, but the anecdotes of Ghanaian nurses I had the privilege of working with at Bournemouth Hospital swayed me. They promised an eye-opening experience, and that’s what sealed the deal for me.

Landing in Ghana: A Mix of Excitement and Anticipation Touching down in Ghana, I was struck by the realisation that I was here for 4 unforgettable weeks. The adventure began the moment I met a friendly member of the Work the World team at the airport. Our journey back to the house was filled with excitement and chatter, although late evening fatigue eventually got the better of us.

Into the Heart of Healthcare in Ghana My first visit to Effia-Nkwanta Regional Hospital was on a bustling Monday morning and was nothing short of a culture shock. Patients were sitting on the floor due to lack of space, showcasing the resource challenges that define healthcare in certain regions. Each day, we’d share a taxi to the hospital, and then we’d disperse into our respective departments. My chosen departments were neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and paediatrics.

Ward Rounds and Childbirth: A Lesson in Adaptation

As the weeks rolled on, my attention shifted to the intriguing differences in nursing practices among the local professionals. Ghana’s approach to ward rounds differed significantly from what I am used to here in the UK. Nurses took a more limited role, affording me the unique opportunity to immerse myself in clinical experiences. Ward rounds unveiled conditions rarely seen in the UK, such as sickle cell disease. Perhaps the most transformative experience was witnessing childbirth in Ghana. The absence of pain relief highlighted the resilience of Ghanaian women, who bravely faced childbirth pain. Their stoic determination was reinforced by the unique approach of the midwives, who would firmly instruct women to quieten down if

their cries became too vocal.

Nursing: A Different Lens in Ghana A stark contrast emerged between nursing practices in Ghana and the UK. While in Ghana, nurses primarily focused on vital signs and basic tasks, it differed from the comprehensive roles I am used to back home. This contrast, though initially shocking, deepened my appreciation for my UK training and the skills I’ve gained. The lack of extensive personal care by nurses in Ghana was compensated by the strong family orientation in patient care. Families shouldered much of the responsibility for personal care, a difference from the UK’s

nursing culture.

Beyond the Hospital: Bonds and Adventures Life extended beyond the hospital walls, as our vibrant house became a hub for friendships and unforgettable moments. Amidst the 31 fellow adventurers under one roof, I forged lifelong friendships that promise reunions in the near future. Weekends were a whirlwind of exploration. We embarked on boat trips to picturesque villages on stilts and swam in waterfalls. Mole National Park offered us a taste of true wilderness, complete with a luxurious resort and an infinity pool overlooking wild elephants at a watering hole. I’ll never forget it!

Unforgettable Adventure in Princess Town: A Week to Remember Buckle up, because I’m about to take you on a journey that’s straight out of a novel. Picture this: a village named Princess Town, where every moment was a rollercoaster of nerves and excitement. When I got the chance to spend a week there, I was a mix of nerves and anticipation, especially after hearing tales from previous students.

We arrived in Princess Town on Sunday afternoon, and let me tell you, it was like stepping into a whole new world. We were smack dab in the middle of a village surrounded by mud huts, the kind you only see in documentaries. My host family welcomed me with open arms, guiding me to my room and showing me the ropes – the washroom facilities, which were a far cry from the ones I was used to. No running water meant I had to master the art of the bucket wash, and let’s not even talk about the “long drop” toilet – an experience that left a lasting mark on my memory. The village tour was an eye-opener, a whirlwind introduction to life in Princess Town. But the highlight? Meeting the team at the Princess Town Health Centre, the people who I’d be working alongside.

Monday morning dawned, and I was all set to dive into work at the health centre. Except, there was a twist waiting for me – a doctors strike was in full swing, and the village was abuzz with an announcement urging only emergencies at the health centre. It was a quiet start, a bit unsettling, but life had a way of surprising me. As the day rolled on, a lady came in, ready to give birth. I jumped at the chance to be there, and let me tell you, witnessing a birth is like holding the universe in your hands. A precious little girl entered the world, and I was lucky enough to be part of that incredible moment.

Tuesday and Wednesday were a whirlwind of community visits, checking on locals, and advising healthier choices. Thursday took me to another village, and it was all about spreading awareness. A school visit turned into an education session on handwashing, followed by tending to children’s wounds in the clinic. Oh, those curious kids! They couldn’t get enough of my long blonde hair. But work wasn’t the only thing on the menu – we seized every chance to make memories. Canoe rides, playing in the waves, and even trying Akpeteshie (let’s just say, not my thing) – each day was an adventure in itself. A fort added a touch of history to the mix, giving me a taste of culture beyond the ordinary.

Finally, Friday rolled around, and it was time to say our goodbyes to Princess Town. Back at the big blue house in Takoradi, I couldn’t wait to spill the beans to my friends. This week was more than just an adventure; it was a journey that stretched my limits, melted my heart, and taught me lessons no classroom ever could.

Final Thoughts: Seizing the Opportunity For anyone pondering a similar journey, rest assured—Work the World guides you through every step, making the process effortless. Embrace the unfamiliar, for you’ll find comfort in newfound friendships. This

journey has not only transformed me as a nurse but as a global citizen ready to face the world’s challenges with open arms. As I wrap up this tale, I’m left with the itch to return and explore even more. So, if you’re on the fence, let this story be the gentle push you need to embark on your own extraordinary journey. With love and adventure, Katherine x

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