Work the World
Work the World Programs
Handmade rehabilitation equipment, paraffin therapy, and unexpected trauma-related injuries are a few unusual things participants will see while working in Iloilo, an incredibly...
Work the World Reviews
Work the World have been faultless during the placement
Submitted by Adam Garrard - - | February 01, 2018
With medical school holidays narrowing, I decided to make the most of my last big university summer and travel somewhere I had never been before. This was quite a snap decision, but with some gentle persuasion from Work the World, I was soon destined for the Philippines! My main reasons for choosing this destination were the wide range of specialities available and the prospect of lots of surgical exposure.
Arrival to the Philippines was very smooth although tiring considering the hours of travel. Once on the ground, I was met at the airport by a member of the in-country team and taken to the Work the World house. During the journey, the verbal induction was very informative as it gave me a better understanding of things to come, above and beyond what was said during the phone calls leading up to departure.
Arriving at the house was another joy, with lots of housemates to meet and food to be eaten. During the tour of the house, it became apparent that the house was very spacious and comfortable (although acclimatisation to the temperature would take time!)
My first day happened to be a bank holiday, so the entire house decided to scale the ‘Taal’ — the local volcano. This was a bit of a double-edged sword as it was a great way to get to know my new house mates, but due to my lack of acclimatisation I sweat out my body weight walking up the to the top! In hindsight, getting one of the horses up may have been more comfortable. At the top, the views were spectacular and our group also managed to get featured on a local travel show!
My first day in the local hospital was very interesting and everyone was so welcoming. The surgical team here is very large and covers most specialties. They were keen to get me involved. After the morning flag ceremony, I was straight into a round covering most surgical patients in the hospital.
All the medical staff are very competent in English, and where they slipped into the local dialect they were quick to translate. I wanted to get involved in theatre as much as possible, so I headed there in the afternoon. Within 10 minutes, I found myself in theatre during an abdominal skin graft — what a first day!
My first day far exceeded my expectations and this largely continued throughout my time in the surgical department. Theatres were another inclusive environment where inquisitiveness was rewarded with unique experiences. The more you show interest the more you get to do. Compared to the UK, much of the surgical department in the hospital is unfortunately not well-equipped, but what they do have they use very resourcefully. Mondays and Fridays were reserved for general surgery and Tuesday through to Thursday was reserved for subspecialties such as neurosurgery, urology, plastic surgery, head and neck surgery, paediatric surgery, and orthopaedic surgery - all of which I got to be involved in.
I managed to thoroughly immerse myself in all specialities at varying levels of surgical assistance. Orthopaedic surgery was by far the most engaging, allowing me to be involved in the surgical team and fully assist in procedures such as ORIF and elastic nailing. Other notable procedures in which I assisted were cerebral aneurysm clipping, cervical spine decompression and removal of large GIST. With my particular interest being neuro, this was a great centre to be exposed to a growing and developing department with a large patient base.
As well as theatre exposure, there were plenty of opportunities to experience all the facets of surgery in other departments like ER (A&E), outpatients and on the wards. The best cases were always the ones which you managed to see through their whole story, from admission to discharge.
Outside of placement, the Philippines has a lot to keep you occupied with. During the week if you enjoy looking after your wellbeing as I do, there are gyms to keep your health in check. If you’re feeling indulgent, get a massage for less than £5 for an hour. Very close to the house, there’s also a large shopping centre full of home comforts, or for a more authentic Filipino shopping experience there are markets close by.
During the weekends, there are many places you can head to. I managed to find time for a range of activities, and travel to a number of exciting places. Activities included diving, snorkelling, swimming, and canoeing. The beaches in the area are very beautiful and the nightlife in the region is diverse. I went away to places like Anilao and Puerto Galera, which were very relaxing.
It was a testament to the world service that the placement far exceeded my expectations. The support around the programme was without error. I can particularly recommend this placement for anyone who is interested in surgery, as the experience I gained here was unique and very insightful.
Work the World have been faultless during the placement showing themselves to be very accommodating and flexible to changing circumstances. The programme team are very knowledgeable and have great insight into the local area. From choices of food to placement details they are very keen to tailor your time with them.
The food was another excellent facet with our in-house chef providing diverse, high quality food that catered to all that were there. Additionally, the other members of the house team were fun to interact with and made you feel safe and secure. Lastly, the staff are keen to have your feedback so that they can continually improve their methods and placements.
It will teach you so much clinically, and personally
Submitted by Laura Kent - - | February 01, 2018
I decided to organise my placement with Work the World as I had seen the organisation online, and I knew someone who had travelled with them before — they told me it was really good! I was interested in the culture of the Philippines, the newly blossoming tourism there, and how beautiful it looked. It was as good as I had expected, if not better!
I’ve travelled alone before so going on my placement by myself didn’t faze me. The team in the UK are amazing at the pre-departure process, which made everything so easy. It really was hassle-free! It was a long journey to get to the Philippines, but I was thankfully met at the airport and taken to the house by a member of the in-country team. We chatted the whole way and the staff answered any questions I had on arrival in Manila.
I was both nervous and excited — there was another girl on the same flight as me who was also going to the Philippines with Work the World, and we chatted the whole way to the house. We got there late at night so everyone was asleep, but the in-house chef had prepared snacks for us when we arrived. In the morning, we met the other students we’d be living with for the next few weeks, and were all very eager to get going with our placements!
On the first day, we got to know our surroundings, and in the afternoon, went to a pool nearby and chilled and got to know each other. It was really nice to relax, especially after a long journey the day before. It was lovely and sunny — we knew we would be there during the rainy season so we couldn’t be sure about weather, but it was beautifully warm and clear!
The Work the World house is really nice, and the rooftop was my favourite spot. As a new programme, we weren’t sure what the house was going to be like, but I was so pleased when we arrived. We used to go up and watch sunset after dinner on the terrace, and it was such a nice place to unwind. There was also loads of communal space to catch up with housemates. Here, we would all go through what we’d seen during the day on placement — very important when you’re away from home in a new setting. We all shared dinner at a big table every day like a family. This made it easy to make friends even though I was travelling alone. Whilst I was there, there was a mix of nurses, some dentists and a midwife. A few people were friends from home but it was so easy to become part of a big friendship group.
Visiting the hospital for the first time was eye-opening. I knew it wasn’t going to be like home, however it was definitely different to what I had imagined. Working there taught me so much, like how to be more creative with equipment. I learnt so much from local physios who did an excellent job with so few resources. In the Philippines, they really make the best of what they have. The patients all have such a positive attitude and are grateful to be treated at all.
I saw a lot of road traffic accidents, which were dealt with quite differently when compared with the UK. Greater resources in the UK means patients might make a full recovery, but in the Philippines, this is less likely. The Programme Manager knew that I wanted to see some other cases outside the hospital. He arranged for me to go to a specialist clinic to see how occupational therapists and speech pathologists manage children with learning disabilities, autism, and ADHD. I also saw cases of palsy and growth development delays. It was an insightful experience.
My day-to-day role in the hospital was based in the OPD. The same group of physios do outpatient and inpatient, which was interesting — in the UK, I’d normally be working on one ward or the other, so being able to see both was very valuable. In the Philippines, I’d start in outpatients and do modality with the patients. After lunch, I’d go to see the inpatient ward where I’d see a variety of cases. Medical specialists aren’t as available in as they are in the UK. Physiotherapists have to treat from start to finish, as there is no one else to refer patients up to. This was fascinating to see.
To get to the hospital in the mornings, we took passenger tricycles or jeepneys (local public transport). I found the Filipino staff so friendly, happy and they all had such a positive attitude. They were really welcoming, and wanted to immerse us in their culture. On the first day, they bought us street food and were keen for us to try the local delicacies. Some days we spent travelling the country with our new staff friends. They were happy for us to do this because they were so eager for us to experience the place they call home! I loved seeing more of the Philippines and exploring the culture alongside them.
I was the only Physiotherapist for 3 weeks in the house, and then another female physio joined. It was nice to talk to her and share with her what to expect. It was very nice to get home from a long day in the hospital and speak to my housemates about what I’d seen or done that day
Back at the house, we had language lessons twice a week. I think our language teacher found us very funny! She was a great teacher and very patient. In the evenings after placement, we’d often go to the local pool. Some nights we had a Filipino cooking lesson, which was so much fun. We’d then eat what we made in the evening. Preparing and sharing traditional food was a real highlight.
Early in the week, we would all decide if we were going to go on a weekend trip. Having internet in the house meant we could research and find the best spots to go, but the Work the World staff were so helpful and always told us where we’d enjoy, and give suggestions of trips and places to stay. Having these recommendations made so much of a difference. Sometimes, we’d go as a big group or sometimes split off to do our own thing. We went to the Taal volcano with the whole house and trekked all the way to the top! Well, at least the boys did. The girls rode donkeys. There were amazing views of the volcano at the top.
To any students thinking about undertaking a Work the World placement, I would say that it's an amazing experience. It will teach you so much clinically, and personally. Go for it!
The program also offers opportunities to explore local areas
Submitted by David Li - - | February 10, 2017
Earlier this year in the middle of January, I – along with 9 of my dentistry classmates – embarked on a trip with Work the World. We chose to take our placements in Iloilo, a small city towards the south end of The Philippines. The opportunity to volunteer and gain experience overseas has always been an attractive prospect to students at Griffith, and after meeting a few representatives from Work the World at a trade show run by the school’s student society, we got a group together and organised the trip.
The lead up to the trip was surprisingly relaxing. 9 times out of 10, every time I travel overseas I end up panicking at the last minute over whether I’ve forgotten anything. Thankfully Work the World set up an online trip planner detailing what needed to be sorted out and when by. Logical and systematic, it’s exactly what someone as disorganised as myself needed. The team also give you occasional phone calls in the lead up to the trip, mainly to ascertain your areas of interest to ensure that you get the exposure you’re looking for during your program.
In the build-up to the trip my friends often joked that because I was so tanned, I’d blend in perfectly with the locals. Funnily enough when I arrived in The Philippines, it became obvious people thought I was a local but I still felt out of place! The Assistant Program Manager from the Work the World house was sent to greet us at the airport. As far as first impressions went, they were honestly the warmest and loveliest people, and took us to the WtW house.
If there is one thing that I would encourage above all else to future students, it would be to keep an open mind and be adventurous. Immerse yourself in the local culture and do not be afraid to try new things.
The Work the World is a place I certainly won’t forget. Housed with fellow interns from all over the world and being treated to the legendary cooking of our private chef, our home was never short of fun; whether it was playing Cards Against Humanity, stargazing on the roof at night time or Thursday Karaoke and BBQ nights. Those who choose Iloilo for their placement are also blessed to have the Work the World Staff; they were never short on ideas on things to do, places to explore and some of the best karaoke voices I’ve heard in my life. I went to Iloilo with the goal of immersing myself in the local culture as much as I could and the staff played a big role in giving me new ideas and things to try!
The placement itself started with an introduction from the local head of department who gave us a run-down on local statistics. For me, it hit quite hard getting to grips with just how different the standards were from back home. Of course, it was never going to be the same but the gulf was so much more dramatic than I originally imagined. In a way, I suppose this gave me a sense of accomplishment in thinking that I was making some sort of contribution to a bigger task.
I was paired up with my own supervisor and the experience I gained from there on out was invaluable. For fun, my supervisor challenged me to try a local delicacy called Balut which is a boiled 16-day old fertilized duck egg! Surprisingly, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Would I try it again? Probably not, but at least I can now say with pride that I gave it a go and that mentality of trying new things is how you’ll get the most out of the trip.
The program also offers opportunities to explore local areas. Our group decided to visit Antique (pronounced an-tee-kay), a small coastal town about 4 hours’ bus ride from Iloilo. We spent the weekend swimming in volcanos, fishing at dawn with the locals, flying across valleys on zip lines and mingling with the local children. I’m 99% sure a couple of my friends unwittingly adopted a few sons and daughters. If there is one thing that I would encourage above all else to future students, it would be to keep an open mind and be adventurous. Immerse yourself in the local culture and do not be afraid to try new things. It’s certainly very different to what you’ll be used to but how you choose to respond to that is purely up to you. You can choose to spend your spare time locked in your bedroom on your phone. or you can explore! The world is your oyster!
I made so many unforgettable memories
Submitted by Veronica Pletiak - - | February 10, 2017
I had an unforgettable and invaluable experience with Work the World. All the staff, students and locals have been extremely friendly to me and have gone the extra mile to help me get the most out of my trip. I have had such an incredible experience here and have made so many lifelong friends in my short three weeks, as well as drastically improving my confidence and clinical skills. I would recommend students undertake their placement with Work the World, you won’t regret it.
I have just finished my three-week placement with work the World. I chose to do a placement with this organisation because I had been interested in studying abroad, however such an opportunity did not exist for my degree. It was not a course requirement for me to undertake a clinical placement, but when I heard about the opportunity I couldn't resist.
A major reason to choose this destination is the friendly culture here, where everyone genuinely wants to say hi and help you out in whatever way they can. It's such a breath of fresh air and something that I initially found quite hard to get used to. I arrived in Iloilo late in the evening and was greeted straight away by a member of the Work the World team who was easy to find in her blue ‘Work the World’ shirt. We took a taxi to the house. During the ride, she debriefed me on my placement and the week ahead.
At the hospital, we met the key staff member for our placement at the hospital. He gave us a tour of the grounds to visit numerous wards, and provided us with interesting information about the hospital.
On our city orientation, we were taken to the tourism office where we were advised of the great attractions in Iloilo City in addition to other 'must see' locations around the Philippines. We then went to SM city, the main shopping centre near the house to get some essentials like SIM cards, which are cheap and I would recommend getting. We were taken to have traditional Filipino food for lunch and then had the opportunity to walk back home along the esplanade, which was very nice. I found that the orientation was not only a great way to introduce me to my placement location and co-workers, but also to help me to get my bearings around the city.
By the end of the first day in the hospital, I had gained loads of experience, which was the real reason for me coming on this placement. I felt a great sense of accomplishment having worked so successfully with the welcoming local hospital staff already, especially on my first day.
There are numerous differences that I observed between the clinics in the Philippines and those in Australia. The main difference being the significantly lower standards of infection control. Make sure you take plenty of alcohol gel with you!
Whilst on placement, I was also performing research for my third-year. For my research, I was considering the differences between the healthcare systems in Australia and the Philippines. For data collection, I interviewed patients and staff about the healthcare system, access to care and patient views on care. I had a great response for my research and found that most patients were highly proficient in English. Only for a handful of participants did I have to speak in Hiligaynon that Work the World’s language teacher helped me learn and translate. I found that through doing this research I could fully grasp the healthcare system, which aided in providing me with such a well-rounded placement.
Another fantastic memory that I will take home is the great relationship that I have built with my mentor. She took the time to get to know me and even went above and beyond her duty, inviting me to her family's house for lunch numerous times where I got to experience home-cooked Filipino food, and culture. The family was so lovely to me and told me that I am welcome to stay with them anytime and that their family is my family.
Other than my clinical experiences, I have had a great time travelling around the Philippines. I visited Boracay twice, once for New Years and a second time with 14 other students where I had the opportunity to go parasailing. I also visited Guimaras during my stay, which is a beautiful hidden gem of an island. It is an amazing place for island hopping and has the best mangoes. I would recommend you visit both Boracay and Guimaras because they are such beautiful areas in the Philippines where I made so many unforgettable memories. There are still so many places that I want to visit in the Philippines, so you won’t ever be bored or lack ideas of where to go whilst over there.
If you turn up with an open mind, you will love the whole experience
Submitted by Kevin Zhang - Melbourne University | February 10, 2017
My name is Kevin Zhang and I am a student from Melbourne University, Australia. I travelled on a Work the World program at the end of the year before I was about to head into the final year of my degree.
The reason I chose Work the World (WtW) was that I compared a few different organisations that offer student placements and it seemed like WtW had the most positive reviews and the most attractive website. I chose Iloilo, the Philippines, because I thought having most of the population able to speak and understand English would make my placement a lot easier. It did for sure.
The WtW house is amazing and the staff are very helpful. The Program Manager and assistant are the nicest people you will meet and they can help you with everything from solving placement issues to how to wash your socks like a local. I’m convinced that the house chef is the best cook in South-East Asia. He’s just so passionate about what he does. If, like me, you have only lived in colder places throughout your life, having only fans in the house can initially be a challenge. However, by the third night my body seemed to magically adapt to the heat, and sleeping wasn’t an issue from then on. As there are heaps of board games, books and areas to hang out in the house, you’ll never get bored. The Internet is not as slow as I initially believed it would be, and to me it was fast enough for everything. Every Thursday night — BBQ night — is like Christmas, with so much good food and drink, and of course always some sort of night out after the feast.
The supervisors are fantastic. Mine even introduced me to his family, which made me feel like a part of the team and culture. Be prepared to see things done differently and have an open mind about it. Things are done the way that is best for the specific situations. You’ll certainly learn a few different techniques! Lastly, make sure you stay proactive because that’s exactly how you can gain the most out of the experience.
As far as the traveling options go, in the Philippines you will mostly hear about Boracay island, Guimaras island or Antique (an-tee-kay), so instead I’ll tell you something about scuba diving. I planned to do an open-water PADI course while in the Philippines, so I considered different places and courses. It’s more expensive in popular regions like Boracay and Cebu and cheaper in lesser-known areas like El Nido, Coron and Bohol. Per research, the places that are worth diving in are Coron (the wreck diving capital) and El Nido (value and you can also experience the natural beauty of Palawan). I booked a 3-day course in Coron (you can ask for a discount, don’t be shy), which included everything apart from accommodation. I was also going to be one-on-one with the instructor and would do two wreck dives on the 3rd day.
Last, but not least, the food is delicious and plentiful. Eating out is very affordable, so take advantage of the array of delicacies that Iloilo offers.
In short, if you turn up with an open mind, you will love the whole experience.