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Medical Internships in Tanzania - Arusha
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Medical Internships in Tanzania - Arusha

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Work Environment

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

My elective was absolutely incredible

When I first thought about my medical elective at the beginning of fourth year a sense of dread seemed to be looming over me. That probably seems really weird to all of you reading this but it was basically because I am a complete and utter home-bird! I love going away to places I've never been before but it's only ever been for three or four weeks max so the prospect of being away from home for nearly two months seemed daunting to say the least! That's where Work the World came in, everything was made so easy, the placements were sorted out by the team and all the accommodation and food were accounted for, there was virtually no planning on my part, it really seemed too good to be true!

So, the day of my elective came and my friend and I said tearful goodbyes to our friends and family at the airport. We arrived in Kilimanjaro Airport for our first placement in Arusha. We arrived in Kilimanjaro only to find that our bags hadn't arrived with us! This was a bit rubbish as you can imagine but when we got to the house (which is absolutely gorgeous by the way) everyone there was so accommodating and lent us all the necessary essentials without us even having to ask. The Program Manager in Arusha had the whole situation sorted the next day, so it all worked out fine!

On our first day in Meru District hospital the Program Manager took us to meet the matron in charge who immediately took us under her wing, giving us a grand tour of the hospital and introducing us to nearly every member of staff who delighted in our feeble attempts at Swahili. As soon as the tour finished we went straight into a ward round in the general medicine ward which was really, really interesting despite being a bit of a shock to the system. The wards are really basic and most of the primary care to the patients is done by their relatives. It seemed pretty alien as did the whole experience in the hospital but after about a week we were used to it and were getting really involved on the wards.

Apart from the clinical experience we also went and learned how to paint Maasai style and got to draw and paint our own pictures, which, was really fun! On Thursday nights, the chef (possibly the nicest most smiley person in the world), cooked the best barbeques. After having a few Konyagis (the local cheep alcohol) we’d go to a club called Via Via which was a really cool outdoor night club which played a mix of African and English pop - brilliant night out!

On our last week in Arusha we went to say with the Maasai for a week on our village experience. This was nothing short of incredible, and probably the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.

We arrived in the village after a six-hour bus journey to receive the warmest welcome from all of the villagers, which was especially lovely as we were all grumpy after the journey. We got to our house which was a particularly glamorous mud hut (I am not being sarcastic!) with four rooms in it - 3 bedrooms and a kitchen. There was no running water, electricity or mobile phone network, this, to a girl who is constantly glued to her mobile, seemed like hell but I quickly got used to it and after about the second day was quite liberating! There was something to do every day like go to the market, visit the spiritual healer (personal highlight), dance with the Maasai ‘mamas’, watch the warriors jump. To top it off they take you to sacred ground and sacrifice a goat! The dispensary is also amazing, the doctor there translates the history, lets you do all the examinations, come up with differential diagnoses and derive the management plan. It really is good practice and I really learned a lot here. I really think that if you are planning to go to Arusha the Maasai village is a must!

After coming back from the Maasai billage on a massive high we sadly had to depart to Dar es Saalam, we were both really looking forward to seeing Dar but had really settled into Arusha and didn't really know what to expect. So we arrived there a bit apprehensive but after seeing the gorgeous swimming pool we knew it was the perfect place to spend our last three weeks of placement. Again everyone was so friendly and completely willing to do anything they could to make your stay there as near to perfect as possible. They even helped us to arrange accommodation after our placement with Work the World had finished, nothing is too much trouble!

The hospital in Dar was a little more advanced than the one in Arusha but still very basic. We were even more hands on here and were given opportunities to do lots of different procedures such as inserting NG tubes, inserting catheters, drains to drain ascitic fluid – the list is endless really. I really felt like I got a lot out of my time in Amana and got to practice loads of clinical skills which will be extremely useful for finals.

Dar definitely wasn't all work and no play either; we were constantly going out for coffee or ice-cream or going to one of the local bars. I highly recommend Sweet and Easy which is about a 5-minute walk away from the Work the World house and on a Thursday night an amazing African band called "Banana Zoro" play English and American pop songs in an African way, really fun night filled with lots of stupid dancing.

While you're in Dar it is a must to go to Zanzibar! It’s a paradise. The beaches are completely gorgeous - the whitest sand and clearest water I have ever seen in my life! Go to Stone Town as well and go to see the giant tortoises on Prison Island and do a spice tour. They are both really easy to organize. The accommodation is really cheap as well, $15-20 per night, and if you don't want to spend a lot on food there is a food market which has about 40 stalls each selling fresh fish, shellfish and meat, there's loads of stuff for veggies too! The freshly squeezed sugar cane juice is absolutely delicious. I spent less than £5 at the market on food and could barely move I was so stuffed!

My elective was absolutely incredible, everything seemed easy and the team both here and in Tanzania made everything seem effortless. I would highly recommend doing this split placement as you get to see two completely different sides of Tanzania, the big city in Dar es Salaam and the more cultural Arusha!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Work Environment

    10

  • Health & 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

  • Work Environment

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Africa did not disappoint!

There were a number of reasons why I chose to do my elective in Africa. I wanted the opportunity to see conditions you don't normally get in the UK, to work in a healthcare system that is completely different to our own, to visit somewhere I'd never been before and to experience a culture like no other. Africa did not disappoint!

I'd always planned to do my elective alone, to exert my independence! And although I was happy to travel by myself, I didn't want to be on my own so far away from home in a place where I didn't speak the language. Work the World solved that dilemma! It was so useful to have help throughout the elective process - the team were able to advise about everything from visas to clothing and local culture. As I only had a week between exams and my departure, it was a relief not to be worrying about last minute elective details during the exam period. The knowledge of the staff in Africa was invaluable - they knew which tour companies were best to go with, had all the local taxi numbers, helped us orientate ourselves during the first few days and generally made everything easy. I definitely felt paying a little extra to go with WTW was worth it, just to have that local knowledge and support!

In Tanzania, I was working in general medicine on the female ward at the district Hospital. Apart from the fun (but slightly squashed) ride on the public bus, I really enjoyed being at the smaller district hospital. There are fewer students so we were free to go into any department and there was also more opportunity to assist in theatre. Most of the staff had great English and were very friendly and happy to teach. They loved to discuss how we do things back home! The notes are also written in English. The only problem I found was communicating with the patients, most of whom had very little English. It's definitely worth learning a few phrases before you go!

I spent two weeks sitting in on different clinics (Dermatology, HIV, Diabetes etc.), which gave me a great overall impression of their healthcare and another two weeks in a smaller maternity clinic just across town. The hospitals were not how I'd imagined it at all! With Africa being mostly a developing continent and everyone telling me how brave I was to go there, I guess I had this naïve image that I'd be "making a difference". I quickly realized it wasn't going to be like that. The hospitals are very basic but they still carry out the same treatments and the doctors are all highly skilled. The conditions I saw were at a more advanced stage than they would ever get to in the West due to the lack of screening and I saw some really interesting cases - tetanus, Kaposi's sarcoma and anthrax being most memorable!

The one thing I really wish I had thought about before travelling was raising some money to take with me. Several other students had done some fundraising before their trips and were able to buy supplies out there to aid the departments they'd been working in.

Outside the hospitals I had ample opportunity to experience African life. Safari in the Serengeti, a weekend living with the Maasai and learning about their culture, the Maasai market (prepare to be harassed!), various trips to Prison Island (Google this!) and the local sandbanks, not to mention the numerous idyllic beaches on offer in Zanzibar! I've been home for four weeks now and am already thinking of excuses to go back!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Work Environment

    10

  • Health & 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.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Internship Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Work Environment

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

I really enjoyed my time in Tanzania

Just before commencing my final year in medicine, I had the opportunity to spend 6 weeks in Arusha, Tanzania with Work the World. I arrived at the Work the World house on Saturday, having spent a few days in Zanzibar and a bus drive across to Arusha from Dar es Salaam. I was then given an induction and briefing of how things work around the house.

Each of the rooms in the house was named after a safari park – I was in Serengeti. My room slept up to four people in two bunk beds, with lots of wardrobe space, mosquito nets and your own security deposit box. Safety was not an issue in the house as there was 24-hour security at the gate. We shared a bathroom with the room next door, however all the other rooms had their own en suite bathroom. There was a huge living space with lots of books that had been left behind if you fancied chilling out on the balcony. The kitchen was always fully stocked with food including fresh fruit and vegetables, bread and Nutella! During the week, the superb cook Witness delivered incredible pancakes, fresh fruit and juice for breakfast and in the evenings produced culinary masterpieces including both African dishes and European food – her mashed potato was amazing! All different tastes were catered for as most nights there was a selection of meat or fish and vegetable dishes, salad and chips, pasta or chapattis. You simply helped yourself to whatever and how much you liked – most times there being seconds! Once a week was the much anticipated BBQ night. You really ate until you burst that night! Lunch time and weekends you helped yourself to whatever you wanted, if you weren’t at the hospital or in town anyway.

On the Monday, I was taken with the other new arrivals on orientation of the Arusha area, giving information on using ‘dala dalas’ – a sort of public minibus, changing money, ATMs, and reliable places to eat, but most importantly where to buy vital souvenirs – my first of many encounters with the Maasai market!

Tuesday morning was my induction to the hospital. After meeting with the director of the hospital and having a brief tour, I started straight into working in the Pediatric department. Things were very different there in comparison to what we are used to in the UK. I attached myself to two of the doctors and went about with them doing ward rounds and clinics. Most of the staff spoke good English, but it is good to have the Swahili lessons in the house (provided by Work the World) twice a week so that you can learn the basics to communicate with the patients. “Nipi tano” (“Give me five”) was always well received in the pediatric ward!

After four weeks in “P-Block”, many ward rounds, clinics and pediatric HIV CTC clinics (which I strongly recommend to attend to appreciate the impact of HIV on Tanzanian children) later, I decided to spend my final two weeks broadening my experiences of the healthcare system in Tanzania and spent one week in the labor ward of the obstetric department and the final week in surgery. The labor ward was an experience I will never forget… it was very different to how the NHS manage antenatal and perinatal care! However, it was really rewarding to hear a baby cry after I had performed a little resuscitation at birth if they needed it. Caring for them in the neonatal intensive care and giving them a little cuddle every so often made my day.

Every day, I finished work at the hospital by 2pm at the latest so the afternoon was yours to do whatever you wanted. Most afternoons, I met with others from the house for lunch and a bit of gossip as to how their day had been. Other days, the afternoon was for shopping.
The Maasai market is amazing and I had to buy a second suitcase to carry home all that I had bought! Take advantage of the excellent luggage allowances that airlines have - I flew Kenya airways, which was 46Kg! All I can say is bargain your wee heart out - it usually pays off, and Sunday afternoon is a great day as it is usually a bit quieter and they are only too glad of a sale so you can get some really good bargains!

I really enjoyed my time in Tanzania. I can say that it was a life changing experience and one that I will never forget.