Child Nursing – Philippines (Worldwide Volunteering)
BSc (Hons) Child Nursing
Nica Casandra completed a 2 week volunteering project in the Philippines with Work the World.
Choosing the right project
“My project was a two-week hospital placement at a local government hospital in Iloilo, Philippines through the company Work the World. I was at the end of my 2nd year in Child Nursing and was very keen on taking an overseas placement in a developing country, and because I was born in the Philippines the opportunity to work in a hospital in that country was something that I very much wanted to experience.
After looking at several different websites and reading countless reviews I knew that Work the World’s placement opportunity for nursing in Iloilo was the one for me, especially after reading that health care in the hospital is led by nurses. I felt that this trip would help enhance my nursing skills and allow me to gain an insight in the differences in how health care is provided in the Philippines.”
Once in a lifetime experience
“This was a once in a lifetime experience. For my hospital placement I had the opportunity to be exposed to different areas such as the Emergency Room (A&E), Paediatrics, Orthopaedic Outpatients, Medical Intensive Care and the Delivery Room. Filipino health care practitioners are some of the most skillful and resourceful I have worked alongside, and they can do so much with so little. All nurses and doctors I came across have always been very friendly and welcoming, and always happy to answer any questions they are asked by students. Definitely made me feel part of the team!
Highlights and new experiences
“There were days when the Emergency Room would be full and have a backlog of over thirty patients still awaiting to be transferred to a ward due to lack of bed spaces. There were days when 3-5 children would be sharing a single bed in the Paediatric ward. However all of these patients were all extremely grateful to be receiving the care they are given and it was humbling to see, as health care in the Philippines is not free.
I’ll treasure my shift in the Delivery Room where I assisted with deliveries and witnessed new lives coming into the world (I got to sneak in some cuddles with the babies too!). I also enjoyed assisting in treating children with clubfoot in the Orthopaedic Outpatients, and assisting in caring for critically ill patients in ICU. I feel privileged to have been able to see the differences in how they carry out procedures and thankful that they allowed me to help with some of these during my shifts, with very close supervision from the nurses and doctors.
I went on this trip on my own which was a scary thought but it was the best decision I could have made as it allowed me to break out of my shell and step out of my comfort zone. In the Work the World house, I met so many amazing people, such as my fellow students and the staff who went above and beyond to make us feel at home, always so kind and caring – they made my trip that bit more amazing. The daily jeepney rides (the Philippines’ version of a bus) and spontaneous trips around the city, the weekly BBQ and karaoke nights held in the house. I could not have asked for a better experience.”
Differences between the UK and Philippines
“Professional practice in the Philippines has massive differences to the NHS, mostly due to the lack of resources in most parts of the hospital. I loved being able to see how the health care practitioners would use unconventional methods (that were very effective) to solve problems when they lacked the appropriate resources. At times there were situations where my ethical beliefs would be challenged but as mentioned it is important to approach it with an open mind, as this is the practice within their culture. This experience has definitely shown me how lucky we are to have very accessible health care and resources within the NHS that we mostly take for granted.”
“Observing the differences in culture and respecting these differences is pivotal. Although there were moments where I experienced culture shock from the hospital and their health care practices, it’s always important to note that we should respect and be non-judgemental with the way they do things because their culture is different to the British. We are not there to judge, we are there to learn.”
New skills and achievements
“From this experience I feel that I have learned to be more adaptable, especially working within a hospital environment in which the health care practice greatly differs from that in the UK and where the climate is very warm. Due to the low-resource nature of the hospital, I believe that my decision-making and problem solving skills have been improved, as day by day we are thrown into the deep-end in an environment that is not always comfortable to work in. It has allowed me to think outside the box and gain more confidence in my skills as a future nurse.”
Don’t be afraid to take that leap
“If you are contemplating whether to go or not, don’t be afraid to take that leap. This is an adventure you will always remember. It was a scary prospect for me at first – especially since I went on my own, but after the initial fear you’ll soon find yourself getting stuck in and not want to come back to the UK – trust me, I cried on my last day.
You will get to see and learn so much, many things that are unknowable to the UK. You will also meet so many amazing people who will become your friends for life. I now have reasons to visit other parts of the world through the friends I’ve made. As cheesy as this may sound, it is a once in a lifetime trip and the memories will be with you forever.
As the saying goes, “It’s more fun in the Philippines!”