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Medical Internships in Tanzania - Arusha

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Both my work and traveling experiences in Tanzania exceeded my expectations

As a medical student in my final year of training in a well-financed institution, I wanted to experience healthcare firsthand in low-resource setting. When I first set foot in Tanzania, I spent a relaxing week with friends on the island of Zanzibar. The experience of snorkeling in February seemed so surreal. After several days of enjoying the heat of the island, I arrived in Tanzania. I felt immediately at ease as Ghana’s Program Manager came to greet me. The Work the World Tanzania team provided me with a great orientation to the placement and the town of Arusha and its surroundings. I found quickly that I would have no lack of places for entertainment during my four-week elective.

The day my placement began, I was filled with nervousness and anticipation. As I walked into the Labor and Delivery unit (or maternity ward) of the Regional Hospital, the dramatic contrasts to my home institutions became quite vivid. 10-12 beds filled with women in active labor seemed worlds away from the single-bed rooms to which I was accustomed. I was given immediate patient care responsibility at my placement. I was expected to assess patients as they presented to the floor, determine if they were in labor, and initiate management. I was able to perform vaginal deliveries independently and had the opportunity to assist in Caesarean sections. I remained on this unit for the entirety of my four-week placement. I will never forget the exhilaration of delivering several babies each day and learning the essentials of obstetrics without the aid of technology. I became more comfortable assessing women without the help of the ultrasound and the without the use of a Doppler to listen to fetal heart tones.

I had been on international medical rotations earlier on in my medical training and found that my experience with Work the World was by far the most positive. The organization of the program and their attention to your individual needs and preferences was impressive. The program is extremely flexible and allows participants to tailor their experiences to their needs, and the needs of their home institution. I always felt well-supported in the Work the World program. Staff members were consistently available and capable to handle any unforeseen difficulties. The weekly barbecues emphasized the WTW mentality of building friendships while providing an excellent learning environment. We often explored the town of Arusha's nightlife, many great restaurants, and fabulous markets. The house was filled with others on different placements and was a great place to get to know other healthcare professionals and discuss our experiences.

Both my work and traveling experiences in Tanzania exceeded my expectations. I was able to go on safari for 4 days, see some of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen, and meet such interesting and fun-loving people all in one elective. I have absolutely no regrets with my choice of elective and could not have asked for a better experience.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

The doctors are highly skilled

THE PLACEMENT

I was placed at the regional hospital, Arusha for 5 weeks in the surgical department. On the first day I was thrown straight into the thick of things by being asked to scrub in for an appendectomy. The theatres are very different to England they have few resources and organization is almost nonexistent but you won’t be short of things to do. There are two theatres - one for majors and one for minors, and you are free to walk between the two to fill your time but don’t go in unless you are willing to be involved as the surgeons are keen to teach.

Examples of procedures I had an active role in are as follows:

Majors: Thyroidectomy (lots as goiter is common), gastrojejunostomy, appendectomy, ORIF (femoral fractures are very common), Liver abscess, amputations.

Minors: Reduction of wrist fractures, re-dressing burns, POP casts and debridement of wounds.

I also saw a C-section and a natural birth.

The Hospital is severely underfunded and as such has only one anesthetic machine, two oxygen cylinders, no recovery room and no monitoring on the wards. Despite this, the doctors are highly skilled and make the most of the resources they have.

If you are anything like me, you will probably be worried about the HIV risk. I can tell you that as long as you protect yourself and take HIV post exposure prophylaxis you should have very few worries. You will be provided with two pairs of surgical gloves for every procedure and full gowns and goggles (you may like to take your own).

All the doctors speak very good English and are very happy to talk about the differences between Tanzania and England they even encourage your input on ward rounds. Like all hospital placements you get out what you put in and the more enthusiastic you are the more you will learn. I think the best part about the placement is the clinical skills you will gain and the surgical signs you will see, as investigations are costly and patients present very late.

WTW HOUSE AND STAFF

The Work the World house is massive and always stocked up with fresh fruit, veg and various other foodstuffs that the super chef makes into culinary masterpieces. Breakfast normally consists of pancakes, fresh fruit, freshly squeezed juice and tea/coffee but you can request anything you want the night before. Lunch is a do it yourself job (if you aren’t at hospital). Dinner ranges from delicious traditional African cuisine (Ugali, mchicha and my favourite nyama choma) to old English favourites (Chips and steak).

The Program Manager in Arusha, will go out of his way to make sure you have everything you need. Whether it’s organizing safari or getting buses to Dar es Salaam he knows where to go and when for the best deals and service. All the staff always have a huge smile and lots of enthusiasm which certainly helps you get going in the morning.

TRAVELLING IN TANZANIA

Safari is an absolute must whilst in Arusha and it can easily be organized over a long weekend. This can actually be booked through Work the World, and I’d highly recommend doing it this way. 4 days is the minimum I would recommend if you want to go to the main areas of Ngorongoro, Serengeti and Lake Manyara. World the World’s recommended company have safe cars, friendly service and very reasonable prices. I proposed to my fiancé in the Serengeti so I have particularly fond memories of this experience.

I recommend flying to Zanzibar from Arusha as I travelled by coach then ferry which was very time consuming and only marginally cheaper. Zanzibar needs a couple of weeks to explore fully but you can certainly see a lot in a shorter space of time if you are limited. The full moon party at Kendwa takes place every month on or near the full moon. Travelers and locals all rock up for a beach party that lasts till sunrise. When the party is over Kendwa is a beautiful place to chill out after an exhilarating few weeks of placement. Scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing and some water sports can be arranged from here.

Stone Town deserves a couple of nights stay to visit the fish market and go on a spice tour. It gives you a taste of real Zanzibar and getting lost is inevitable and helps you explore the streets and orientate yourself.