Health & Safety
It will teach you so much clinically, and personally
Submitted by Laura Kent - United Kingdom - | 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!