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Medical Internships in Ghana - Takoradi
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Medical Internships in Ghana - Takoradi

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Social Life

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Work Environment

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Internship Placement

    10

I can't recommend Ghana more highly

I decided to travel alone because I thought it would be good to get out there on my own and meet new people. However, the prospect of finding myself in a foreign country with a different language and culture, with no one else for support was quite daunting, and this is what attracted me to Work the World.

On arrival in Ghana I had a member of the Work the World team to greet me, and after arriving in Takoradi, he took me on a guided tour around the town and a very authentic Ghanaian lunch. When you are there you really do appreciate having local people to give you advice, even something as simple as taxi fares so that you don't pay over the odds.

At first, I was stunned at how different everything in the country seemed to home. However, the most striking difference was the friendliness of the Ghanaian people, strangers would wish you good morning, everyone would ask how you were and locals went out of their way to help you in any way they could. In fact whilst waiting for a taxi to the hospital, a football team offered me a ride in their minibus, which was possibly the most interesting journey I've ever had!

A reason for choosing Ghana was for me to see medicine in a completely different setting, in a low resource area where diagnoses had to be made and treatment had to be given without the simple equipment that we take for granted in the UK. This meant that diagnosis was much more challenging as you had to rely more on clinical judgement and medical knowledge. I also wanted to go to a place where the spectrum of disease would be very different from what I was used to, and it certainly was. I saw a child with sleeping sickness, another with tetanus and many with malaria, diseases I would be unlikely to come across in a lifetime in the UK.

Another great part of the experience was being able to discuss events and cases with colleagues back in the Work the World house. There was a large area for socialising and a balcony where we all spent a lot of time together, and I have made some brilliant friends. We went travelling at weekends as a group, and for me this was just as important as the hospital environment in making it such an enriching experience.

We managed to pack a lot into our time, we slept in a forest and did a dawn canopy walk, danced around a bonfire and went on a crocodile hunt. But I was always glad to get back to the house, to the amazing smell of our home cooked meals.

I think I would have had a great internship no matter where I went and who with. However, I think the two things that really stood out for me that Work the World offered were that I went out and stayed with other students, and that I had a network of exceptional staff around me both in the UK and in the host country.

I can't recommend Ghana more highly as an elective destination, you will see diseases you will never see again and like me you won't be able to wait to go back!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Social Life

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Work Environment

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Internship Placement

    10

Ghana was an amazing experience

As a second year medical student with a long summer break to fill, I felt that a month-long medical placement that would allow to experience a completely different culture would be ideal preparation for my clinical years.

I was keen on Africa, but wanted to experience a country that was off the typical tourist-trail. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon the Work the World website and after reading about Ghana and encouraging a few friends to come along too, there was no turning back!

Preparing for the trip was made incredibly easy. When I had any questions the answer was just a phone call away.

We were given a grand tour of Takoradi by the Work the World team on our first day. We learned how to haggle for taxis, how to get a local SIM card for our phones, and where to find the best places to eat.

I was based at a regional hospital—the biggest hospital in Ghana's Western Region—and it was busy. At first there was a bit of culture shock. The wards were dirty, there was no concept of patient privacy, the orthopaedics ward was on the 4th floor and the lift hadn’t worked for 10 years! But I quickly realised that in order to make the most out of the placement I had to embrace these minor challenges.

I decided to split my placement between General Medicine and Orthopaedics. Having only just finished second year I was concerned that I would not be able to make the most out of the placement and would be out of my depth. However this definitely was not the case. In fact I found General Medicine so useful and interesting that I ended up spending the whole time there.

Of particular note was a case of Steven Johnson Syndrome, something I'd never even heard of before. Once I'd shown interest by asking questions and reading up on the patients' notes the doctors were very keen to involve me and began firing questions my way!

It was particularly interesting to meet some 2nd year Ghanaian medical students. They start on the wards from year 1, and so were more clinically competent, whilst I knew more basic science - so we were able to exchange knowledge!

After ward rounds I sat in on diabetes and hypertension clinics. This was a fantastic opportunity to practise performing general examinations. It also highlighted the difference in culture - one patient came in and admitted that he hadn't been taking his medication, and the doctor just told him to go home and stop wasting his time!

There's plenty of free time after placement in the afternoon and Africa beach and Takoradi market were particularly popular.
Being there during the World Cup was just surreal and after joining in the celebrations with a few housemates when Ghana beat Serbia, we were interviewed live on national television!

The weekends give you far more time to travel and experience Ghana. Beyin Beach Resort was a particular highlight.

Ghana was an amazing experience. The people are incredibly warm and welcoming and Work the World were fantastic support both in preparation and when I was out there. I'd love to go back one day, and if you're looking for a truly unique African experience then Ghana is the place to go!

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Social Life

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Work Environment

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Internship Placement

    9

I couldn't have wished for better than what I experienced

I had always wanted to travel to Ghana, and decided to go with Work the World as it was my first time travelling to Africa. I had heard that they were good at organising medical internships, and I wanted to make sure that I was supported at the hospital I was doing the placement at.

It gave me the comfort of knowing that there were people who could help me if I needed it, and that there would be other students around for me to enjoy my experience with. And I am very glad I did, because I ended up having 4 of the best weeks of my life. It was an exciting travelling experience, where I gained a lot out of my hospital placement, and also made lots of friends.

I spent most of my time in the male and female wards with a local doctor. He loved to teach, do ward rounds 3 times a week, as well as a general medical clinic, and a diabetes clinic. The ward rounds were thorough. There was a lot of malaria in Takoradi and I got used to seeing patients present with fever and vague symptoms. Hepatomegaly and splenomegaly are very common.

Many patients were HIV positive, and seeing the range of rashes and symptoms they presented with during the end-stage of the disease was a huge learning opportunity.

What you will notice quickly, is that a lot of the medicine in Takoradi is financially dependent. Many investigations, such as CT scans are not available, and need to be requested in Accra, the capital. Many patients are not able to afford the travel to Accra, so cannot be fully investigated. Similarly, many patients cannot afford treatment. Patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes and asthma often present with worsening symptoms because they can't afford to continue long-term treatment.

People can present with anything, sometimes it feels more like an outpatient department compared to emergency medicine. There are a lot of paediatric cases, which can vary from mild coughs to advanced meningococcal septicaemia. There is also a lot of trauma which keeps the department busy, particularly road traffic accidents. I got to see a lot of suturing, which is done by the triage nurses in the department.

I did a lot of traveling in Ghana around my placement. I can’t recommend the Wli Waterfalls enough! The journey from Takoradi can take up to 12 hours, so it's worth going for at least a couple of nights. The guided walk up to the top waterfall is a nice 2 hour hike through forest. The guide talks you through the wildlife and plants. Once you get to the top you can swim in the top waterfall pool. And then descend to the lower pool. The highlight of this trip is the natural beauty of the waterfalls, and the hike uphill over streams and along a small path. It's a little challenging but extremely worthwhile when you get to the top!

Another recommendation is Green Turtle Lodge. This is a beach resort haven. The resort has a beautiful isolated large beach. You can play volleyball, beach football, table tennis, and there's a bar that stays open all day, and until late at night. The place also offers activities such as: late night turtle watching, and canoeing trips. I had such a fun and relaxing trip there, especially if you go with a big group, where you can play and relax on the beach in the day, and enjoy a few drinks and beach party at night.

As an internship experience, I couldn't have wished for better than what I experienced with Work the World.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Social Life

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Work Environment

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Internship Placement

    9

Great experience

The Work the World house was very comfortable and homely. Nobody (including vegetarians) went hungry in the house; the majority of us actually put on a couple of pounds! There was a supermarket in town selling snacks and all toiletries including sanitary products so we never needed to worry about running out of anything.

For my clinical placement, I undertook two weeks in psychiatry and four weeks in general medicine. Psychiatry was great and I got to know the student nurses well. There is was also a certain amount of flexibility to which departments I wanted to experience and students did swap. I stuck to each department for a good amount of time, and really became part of the local department teams that way. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in medicine. Go in with an open mind and you'll learn a great deal about medicine!

The Work the World staff out in Ghana helped us a lot. They told us things like how much we should be spending on taxis so we never paid more than we had to. By the time I left, Ghana I was a professional haggler!

My housemates and I travelled together at weekends. In the house there was a book in which previous students had written up accounts of where they'd been, how to get there, where to stay, how much money to take and other useful tips. Importantly, there wasn't a single time when I didn't feel safe as a female travelling alone.

I had an amazing time on my elective, it surpassed all expectations. Ghana is an amazing country with the warmest people I've ever met and the staff, along with your housemates, will become good friends. I could not recommend Work the World more highly. My internship went completely smoothly thanks to all the team, it's the best way to do it!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Work Environment

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Ghana was probably the best thing I have ever done

My preparation for my elective in Ghana started in a cold February. I was bored and it was a rainy Exeter day so I thought I would cheer myself up by organizing my elective. Now, first things first, I am a very lazy person. Being the lazy and slightly impulsive person I am, I simply made myself a cup of tea and within a few clicks chose Ghana and put my deposit down!

Meanwhile, my friends were all frantically emailing hospitals in faraway lands and getting infuriated and impatient with the lack of response and the number of hoops they had to jump through.

The Work the World house is lovely and the staff are amazing. It would not have been the same without them, especially at the Wednesday night BBQs where there is more dancing than you can shake a Fufu stick at (Google this). If you are keen for a little bit of lash and banter (does everyone call it that or is it an Exeter thing?!) then there is a bar just down the hill where you can get a round of drinks for about £1.50. There are also a couple of beautifully air conditioned bars where you can play pool in the evening.

Placement is what you make of it - an open mind is essential. You will not change the system, and while you may not save any lives, but you can be very helpful. My advice would be to spend at least two weeks in each placement. For the first few days observe, get the feel of it and then jump in. Be assertive and offer to do things for the staff and they will eventually see you as a helpful member of the team and really value your input. There was a case that I got very involved with and managed to influence her care for the better by being persistent and going out of my way to carry out full neurological examinations before placement and then presenting my findings to the doctors. They were certain that she was in a deep coma. After a few days I was able to convince them that she could follow my fingers and was aware of what was going on. She made good progress and was discharged before I left Ghana.

Undertaking an elective in Ghana was probably the best thing I have ever done. I met so many awesome people (there is talk of a reunion), became more assertive and learnt about the power of persistence. If you are the kind of person who thrives off being receptive and open to new things, then this is perfect for you. Plus, you can laugh at your mates back home as they are being swabbed for MRSA and have piles of paperwork to do for their electives!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Work Environment

    10

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    10

I made some fantastic friends

Since my return from Ghana life is certainly a lot quieter. I can walk down the streets without every child I pass running towards me shouting 'Obruni! Obruni!' (white person), desperate to talk and play. When I need a taxi I have to phone or go out of my way to stop one in the street after eight weeks of every taxi passing you beeping its horn and pulling over, regardless of whether you needed a taxi or not. These are just a few examples of the welcoming and friendly personalities of the Ghanaian people and one of the things I miss greatly.

I travelled on my elective with three friends from Dundee and we were based in Takoradi, the capital of the Western region of Ghana and the fourth largest city in the country. During my six-week placement in the Hospital, I shared my time between the Pediatric department, Obstetrics and Gynecology and Accident and Emergency, in which I feel I had the opportunity to experience different aspects of the Ghanaian Health Service.

The Pediatric ward was a busy ward with a large nursing staff and a Consultant. The Consultant had a fantastic rapport with the children and provided the patients with a great deal of health advice, even if sometimes a little brutally. He enjoyed teaching students and provided fantastic teaching on his ward rounds, allowing us to take histories and perform many examinations. Following the ward round, he would take us to see interesting neonatal cases or would provide us with some teaching, frequently on X-Rays and common pediatric health problems such as malaria, sickle cell disease and glomerulonephritis.

The first morning of ward rounds in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department was quite a shock to the system. The wards were hot and there were beds and mattresses in any possible free area of floor. Mums and baby would be sharing a mattress on the ground that would have doors opening and knocking onto it.

In the post-natal wards, patients who had lost their child would be in beds beside those who had delivered healthy babies. I came across five patients who had lost their child as a result of eclampsia. This was commonly not picked up at an earlier stage as many patients are late bookers and therefore do not receive adequate antenatal care due to financial reasons. All patients in labor were in the labor ward. We spent some time here helping to monitor the patients; timing contractions, performing vaginal examinations and listening for the fetal heart rate and documented our findings on a partogram. When due to deliver, the patient was made to walk out of the ward, down the corridor into the delivery room. Whilst in delivery, patients are not allowed to scream or make any noise as they believe this is bad for the baby. If a patient makes too much noise a nurse is usually at her side shouting at her or hitting her, ordering her to stop. But always remember, you’re here to observe and learn, not judge.

Caesarean sections were performed very similar to at home, although it was common practice for the anesthetist to be unable to perform epidural anesthesia on the patient due to lack of experience and as a result would have to use general anesthesia. There would usually not be enough anesthesia and as a result the mother would often wake up during the procedure.

The most eye opening experience was definitely the two weeks I spent in A&E. The one case which most demonstrates our different cultures was an incident in which a 25-year-old male was taken into hospital covered head to toe in petrol, with many cuts and bruises. It turned out that he had been caught stealing and locals that had caught him, beaten him and tried to set him alight. The police arrived at the scene and had taken him into the hospital. When a member of staff was explaining to us the situation, they made a comment that he had 'unfortunately been saved by the police'. When we asked further about this it was explained to us how stealing was so badly looked upon that they would not think twice of someone who tried to kill someone they caught stealing. Due to it being such a rare occasion that a thief escaped an event like this the press showed up at the hospital. The patient was thrown in a shower naked to clean the petrol off, while reporters took photos of him. We were told it was likely he would be put in jail for about 20 years.

Other frequent presentations in the Accident and Emergency Department included strokes, which were difficult to manage as there was no CT scanner.

As Ghana does not have a structured General Practitioner service, a large number of illnesses present to the accident and emergency department. It can therefore be exceptionally busy with minor cases when an emergency presents. Unfortunately, there is no triaging service and often emergency cases are not fast tracked to the front. An example of this is when a 20-year-old male nursing student was carried into the department by a group of his friends with excruciating groin pain. The doctor in charge was pre-occupied with a minor case of a child with a sore throat and did not make any effort to see the emergency patient. We took a history from the patient and examined him and were pretty confident that he was suffering from testicular torsion yet even when we had passed this message onto the doctor he made no effort to hurry. Eventually he came out and said that he was going to arrange an ultrasound scan, yet started to see more patients before arranging this. The patient was diagnosed as having testicular cancer, and fortunately received surgical treatment without further complications despite the delay in diagnosis.

One male patient presented who had fallen onto lead poles at work. One pole had pierced his left lung and another one had pierced the right side of his abdomen. In Accident and Emergency, the only treatment this patient received was IV saline, whilst he was left in a room on his own perched off the side of a bed whilst waiting for a theatre space.

Other frequent presentations to the accident and emergency department included strokes, which were difficult to manage as there was no CT scanner and therefore it was hard to determine whether it was the result of an infarct or a hemorrhage. In order to make a decision, medical staff had to rely strongly on clinical findings.

Road traffic accidents were also common place, which is not surprising given the carnage we witnessed on the roads with speeding cars, frequently filled with up to 10 people and cars constantly pulling in front of each other. Compound fractures were frequent presentations of road traffic accidents, treatment of which would be manipulation without any sedation or pain relief, followed by splinting of the fracture until a space was available in theatre.

Travelling with Work the World gave me the opportunity of travelling to a developing country with the benefit of having comfortable accommodation, a number of fellow students, great food and many points of contact so that I always felt safe. The Takoradi house could accommodate up to 16 people, so there was always plenty of people in the house in which I made some fantastic friends.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Work Environment

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

I couldn’t have had a better time on my elective

For my medical elective I chose to go to Ghana as I’d always wanted to go to Africa, and as a female going by myself I wanted to go somewhere friendly and safe. The Work the World package was ideal for me, as all aspects of the placement were organized for me, and I made lots of new friends in the Work the World house.

Arriving in Ghana was quite an experience but a member of staff was ready and waiting at the other end, as promised, ready to welcome me with a big hug and look after me! My flight was quite late, so I was taken to a hotel in Accra for the night, and the next day the Assistant Program Manager and I made the journey to Takoradi.

The Work the World team gave me my orientation on the first day there, taking me to the bank to change money and generally showing me around the city. Takoradi itself feels like ‘real Ghana’ – it’s a lot less Western than the bigger cities of Accra and Kumasi, and the people are incredibly warm and friendly to the visiting ‘Obruni’ (white man).

It didn’t take long for the famous Work the World house to feel like home, especially with the caterer Ophelia looking after us all – not only was she an incredible cook, but she was also very kind and caring, going out of her way to make sure we all had everything we needed.

I worked at the main hospital in Takoradi, for 8 weeks, working in Medical, Surgical and A&E. I think it was good to work in several different areas as it really gave me a feel for how the hospital was run and the differences between the specialties. In Ghana you will see a lot of patients with malaria, typhoid and TB, which can be quite rare in the West, and patients with very advanced disease and clinical signs that you’d never get to see back home. As a final year student I was given quite a lot of responsibility when I requested it, particularly on the surgical wards where they basically let me be the house officer, doing bloods and writing notes and seeing my own patients in the clinics. In A&E I did a night shift with two of my friends, and as a team of doctors and nurses it worked really well. Some days were tougher than others in the hospital as sometimes the Ghanaian healthcare system could be frustrating, but it was really nice knowing that after a long day I had a great group of friends waiting in the house to talk through it all. The Work the World team out in Ghana were also incredibly supportive, and made themselves available for any problems we encountered.

The friends I made out in Ghana were really up for going travelling and exploring the country at the weekends. We went to some truly beautiful places, such as the beach resort of Butre to the west of Takoradi, and Lake Bosumtwi near the city of Kumasi. We also took a couple of days off placement and went for a longer trip, spending four days travelling to and from the Volta region where we climbed Mount Afadjato, Ghana’s highest mountain!

It was so helpful having everything organized for me especially as my elective came straight after my finals, and Work the World even provided a country information pack with all the information I could possibly need on getting a visa, how to take my money, essential kit list, etc. They were also at the other end of the phone for any last-minute questions or queries. As a female going on elective alone, this was the perfect way to do it, and I highly recommend going as an individual – it’s a lot easier to make friends when you don’t come as a group!

I couldn’t have had a better time on my elective, and I would recommend Work the World to anyone wanting to do a healthcare placement in Africa.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Work Environment

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

It is a trip of a lifetime!

I always knew I wanted to go to Africa for my elective, but deciding where exactly took some time. I decided early on that I was going to go with a company as I was travelling by myself and I had never been travelling before.

During my research I stumbled across Work the World and after chatting through their destinations I went for Ghana. From the word go Work the World were really helpful, answering any questions I had and giving me plenty of tips and advice for when I arrived. I flew with British Airways as it was a direct flight from London to Accra (I would highly recommend doing this!)

ARRIVING AND SETTLING IN

When I arrived in Ghana it was late and hot and the airport was very busy, but the Assistant Program Manager was there waiting for me, and instantly made me feel very welcome! Five of us arrived that evening and we stayed in Accra and sampled our first Ghanaian cuisine (Jollof rice - tasty!). The next morning, we took the 4-hour bus ride to Takoradi giving us a chance to soak up the country we would be calling home for the next few weeks. On arrival we were shown round the work the world house by the house staff. Ophelia, the in-house caterer, cooked the whole house breakfast and dinner and her cooking is AMAZING. If you are vegetarian or if you don't like something, she will cater for you without a problem. My personal favorite was ground nut soup with rice balls. There is also a BBQ held every Thursday night which is hilarious - be prepared to dance like an idiot to some funky tunes!

On the Monday we were all given an orientation around the hospital and town. In town we were able to exchange money and buy sim cards, plus get some material to get African dresses made. The Assistant Program Manager will show you where everything is, and if there is anything else you need throughout he can show you where to go and how much to pay. Overall I would say it takes about a week to get fully settled in and acclimatized.

PLACEMENT

I did 6 weeks of pediatrics and neonatal intensive care at the regional hospital. The first thing that you notice in the hospital is the heat, but you do get used to it - I promise! The supervisors are very friendly and keen to get you as involved as you want to be. The more questions you ask the more you get out of it! I was usually in from 8.30am to 2pm which left my afternoons free to go to town or to the beach. The key thing to remember in the hospital is to learn and not judge – attitudes and treatment lines can be very different in Ghana, so it's important to go with an open mind to get the most out of it.

VILLAGE EXPERIENCE

I spent my last week in Akwidaa on the Village Healthcare Experience. I was on my own for the week, with no electricity or running water, but I found this to be no problem at all! The host family I stayed with were very welcoming and I was always busy. I would spend my mornings in the local health center where I practically ran the clinic, and in the afternoons we went to local tourist spots such as Green Turtle Lodge beach resort (Google image search this!). I also got to do health checks in the local school and go on outreach to the nearby village to give vaccinations. This was the best week of my time in Ghana - I would recommend it to everyone!

TRAVELLING AND USEFUL TIPS

During my 6 weeks I did lots of travelling including Kakum National Park, Cape Coast, Wli Falls, Busa, Ellis Hideout Lodge and ‘Cape 3 Points’. The waterfalls were my personal favorite! There is a book in the house where previous students have written what is good (and not so good) to do, how to do it and how to get there. The house staff are also indispensable when it comes to travel information, too.
Things that were invaluable were a money belt and a head torch. Also it's hard to get sun screen or insect repellent in Ghana, so bring some with you. There is spare sun screen left by previous students in the house, but everyone always runs out of repellent so bring lots!

I thoroughly enjoyed my 7 weeks in Ghana and I wish I never had to leave. I felt perfectly safe going on my own and I never had any problems with unwanted attention in Ghana. Everyone I met was very friendly and helpful and I would recommend it to anyone to go - it is a trip of a lifetime!