Tanzania 2012 - Hannah Charteris & Sharondeep Uppal
For our elective placement we went to Tanzania on the east coast of Africa through a company called Work the World which was a self-funded placement. We did a total of 5 weeks in placement which consisted of 4 weeks being in Muhimbili Tertiary Hospital in Dares Salaam and 1 week at a Health Centre in a village called Kidodi. We split our time at Muhimbili Hospital between the Emergency Department [ED] and a general surgical ward.
In the ED the patients we predominantly saw were those who had sustained traumatic injuries. One particular patient who was bought to our attention was a Masaai Warrior who experienced multiple abdominal and pelvic injuries after a metal gate fell on him. We also observed many patients who came in with exacerbation of HIV symptoms, malaria, meningitis, and also malnourished children. We had to use our knowledge/skills to monitor and detect changes in patient’s health with the limited resources available.
For our remaining 2 weeks in Muhimbili Hospital we worked on the general surgical ward where we mostly nursed patients with oesophageal cancer, infected wounds, intra-abdominal masses and chronic foot ulcers. The biggest barrier we faced was communication. We overcame this by using non-verbal communication as well as being more vigilant in recognising body language, which are skills we feel are transferrable to us back in the UK. We also made the effort to learn basic words, including medical terms in Swahili making it slightly easier to communicate with staff and patients.
We spent our final week at a Health Centre in Kidodi village where we mainly took part in the HIV clinic and also participated in the daily ward rounds that were carried out by the medical officer where we noticed that up to 95% of admissions were due to malaria.
In addition to this we spent our weekend and final 2 weeks of our trip travelling around, meeting the locals, experiencing Tanzanian food, culture and visiting many beautiful beaches along the way. Overall this international experience was a life changing experience that we have thoroughly enjoyed during the nursing programme.