Written by Guest blogger
This is a guest blog by Jasmine Wright, 3rd-year BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing student at BU. She recently travelled to Lusaka in Zambia on a two-week clinical elective to see the differences between healthcare in the UK and in the developing world.
This was one of the best experiences of my life. When I started my nursing training, I knew I wanted to travel. So, when Bournemouth University introduced me to Work the World, I was immediately intrigued. Africa had always been on my bucket list, so when I saw I had the option to go to Zambia, there was no other choice. After much preparation, I left for Zambia with an open mind, and when I arrived, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands. I spent my first week in the trauma ward, the second split between ICU and theatre, and the final two weeks in the onsite oncology hospital.
In England, we choose our specialities before starting training. I chose adult nursing, so I had the opportunity to look after children with cancer, as well as adults. I was surprised at how much freedom to practice local student nurses had. They actively practiced on patients. On the other hand, they were surprised that in the UK we weren’t even allowed to do things like cannula insertions. The local nurses saw me as a ‘senior’ student as I was in my final year. This meant that I could show some local first-year nurses how we did dressings, cleaned wounds and administered injections in the UK.
I saw so many open bone wounds. There were some very sick patients in ICU, many with severe sepsis. I also saw a full stoma construction that took five hours. There were power cuts during the procedure, so we were forced to use our phones as temporary lights so the surgeons could carry on. I also assisted in delivering chemotherapy to cancer patients, playing
with the younger patients to help them through their treatment. I got the whole ward of children laughing, even though they had no idea what I was saying.
A lack of money was a major issue for my placement hospital. The whole ward shared one box of gloves, meaning they’d use the same pair of gloves to change all the patients’ bedding, which patients had to provide themselves. Staff had to use the same cloth from the day before to damp dust, and they couldn’t double glove for sterile procedures as they simply didn’t have enough. Staff had to reuse surgical gowns after disinfecting in what could only be described as a giant washing machine. They used chlorine to disinfect all equipment throughout the hospital. If patients didn’t have the money to pay for their procedures, the ward doctor asked everyone on duty to help donate towards the patient’s care. My placement was the country’s main hospital, so many patients travelled some distance to get there. This cost money, and so when they arrived, patients often couldn’t afford to pay for their treatment. Many staff felt frustrated with the situation.
When it came to weekend trips, one of our favourites was visiting Livingstone. We went on a sunset cruise the day we arrived and went over to Botswana for an all-day safari. We spent one morning at Victoria Falls, and I can safely say I’ve never seen anything so beautiful.
On another weekend, we saw orphaned elephants being helped back into the wild. We also visited a reptile farm and went to Tiffany Canyon. The African markets were great. We bought so many gifts for our families (and ourselves).
When it comes down to it, I am more confident thanks to this experience. I have a greater appreciation for the NHS, and I realise how lucky we are for all we have back in the UK.
It was the best thing I’ve ever done. I’ll forever remember the people I met and cherish the memories I made.