• 22 July 2020
  • 6 min read

What I Learned From My Elective Placement in Tanzania

  • Shirin Patel
    Staff Nurse
    • Laura Bosworth
    • Aubrey Hollebon
    • Richard Gill
    • Mat Martin
    • Matt Farrah
    • Mariya Begum
  • 2
  • 839
"I wanted to experience the difference in healthcare in the UK and a healthcare system abroad."

Reflecting on her placement experience, Staff Nurse, Shirin Patel, offers advice to any nurses considering working abroad. By stepping out of your comfort zone, you’ll develop more than just your CV.

Topics covered in this article

Introduction

How I Got My Nursing Placement in Tanzania

My Overall Placement Experience

A Typical Day On Nursing Placement In Tanzania

The Main Challenges I Faced While On Placement

What I Loved About My Placement

Reflecting On My Experience And What I Learned

Should Nurses Consider Doing A Similar Placement?

Introduction

My Name is Shirin Patel.

I completed my Diploma from the University of Central Lancashire in Mental Health Nursing in April 2015.

Subsequently, I graduated from the University of Chester in BSc Professional Practice.

As a child, I always dreamt of being a nurse when I grew up.

In primary school, in year 6, we had to make my autobiography book from scratch and in that was one page which read 'My future'.

This is where I wrote about my future aspirations of being a nurse.

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Many years later, here I am, fulfilling my dreams and continue to progress in my career as a nurse.

I only knew about Adult nursing until I started working as a health care assistant with an agency supporting individuals with a Mental Health diagnosis.

This fascinated me and from there I decided Mental Health Nursing was the career for me.

I am passionate about nursing and look forward to going to work each day.

How I Got My Nursing Placement in Tanzania

When I found out one of the options for an elective placement was going abroad, this was a very exciting moment for me.

I wanted to experience the difference in healthcare in the UK and a healthcare system abroad.

The University had contacts with a company called Work the World who specialise in tailoring overseas nursing placements.

I attended a presentation at University which was presented by Work the World.

I went on to the website, read about other peoples experiences and had a look at the destinations available.

I wanted to go to Africa and that's how I chose to go to Tanzania, Dar es Salaam for my elective placement.

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I completed my online application form and submitted to Work the World through their website.

They were very helpful and provided lots of information such as the country and its culture.

During my placement, I was assigned to a suitable supervisor who was my main point of contact within the department I chose, what would happen on arrival at the airport, the orientation of the local area, how to get to my placement, where I would be staying and what the team consists of at the local site.

The only aspects I had to arrange independently were my flights, insurance and visas.

On the Work the World website, I had “MyTrip” log in where I had to provide information.

Once I had booked my flights this information was available to assist staff and they could meet me when I arrived.

My Overall Placement Experience

My overall experience was incredible!

There are no words to describe it.

An experience and memory I will treasure for life!

I would go back tomorrow if I could.

The placement experience was priceless!

A Typical Day On Nursing Placement In Tanzania

I was on placement in Tanzania for 6 weeks.

I had to go to placement Monday to Friday and weekends I was off to do my things and explore the country.

I chose to work in the psychiatric unit.

Every week I was placed in a different area which included Male ward, female ward, outpatient clinic, methadone clinic, spent time with a social worker where we visited an autistic school and visited a village hospital.

On the inpatient wards, there was a lack of space and some patients had to share beds.

The lack of resources was shocking too.

There were times I was shocked at some of the treatments but after talking to the staff I had a better understanding of this.

With the social worker, I got the chance to go to schools to carry out assessments.

I got the opportunity to sit in a class as the teacher was giving a lesson and spend time with children who had autism.

The Main Challenges I Faced While On Placement

The main challenges I faced while on placement was the language.

Talking to the patients the language was a barrier as not all of them could speak English and could only speak in Swahili.

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Let me know your thoughts in the Comments & click Like!

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We had Swahili lessons twice a week to help us communicate whilst on placement.

I enjoyed learning Swahili as it allowed me to communicate a little with the patients and staff.

What I Loved About My Placement

I loved everything about my placement!

From the second I landed to the second I left.

Meeting people, learning the language, eating the local food, watching how patients are assessed, how they are treated with medication and how poor the country is.

Families couldn't afford to bring the ill family member to the hospital and they would keep them at home.

Some families had to force the family members to come to the hospital and when the patient came to us they were extremely unwell and would refuse to be admitted.

Therefore, nurses had to restrain them using ripped bedsheets and would give them an intravenous injection.

This would calm the patient within minutes and they would fall asleep.

The Nurses would complete physical checks on the patient regularly.

This was quite sad to watch.

Reflecting On My Experience And What I Learned

Appreciate what you have and never take anything for granted because there are people out there who have nothing or have very little and wish to have the luxuries you have and to live the life you are living.

Be thankful for every second and every minute of your life.

Should Nurses Consider Doing A Similar Placement?

Nurses should consider doing a similar placement.

It is worth the experience that stays with you for life!

You can write it on your CV and it makes you stand out from the rest.

When you go to your interviews, it gives you something to discuss and share and talk passionately about.

It is definitely worth the trip and experience.

It is a once in a lifetime experience which all nurses should undertake.

Let me know in the comments your thoughts on mt placement experience and what I've said about work abroad - let's chat there!

Oh, and please Like this article to let me know you enjoyed it - thank you!

About the author

  • Shirin Patel
    Staff Nurse

I Studied at the University of Central Lancashire from 2012 to 2015 and graduated in Dip HE Mental Health Nursing. I got offered a staff nurse job at St Davids independent hospital in Carrog, Wales and am still currently in this position. In 2017, I enrolled at the University of Chester to study BSc Professional Practice and graduated in 2018.

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  • Shirin Patel
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About the author

  • Shirin Patel
    Staff Nurse

I Studied at the University of Central Lancashire from 2012 to 2015 and graduated in Dip HE Mental Health Nursing. I got offered a staff nurse job at St Davids independent hospital in Carrog, Wales and am still currently in this position. In 2017, I enrolled at the University of Chester to study BSc Professional Practice and graduated in 2018.

  • 2 Comments
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    • Melissa Clements 2 months ago
      Melissa Clements
    • Melissa Clements
      2 months ago

      I am just about to embark on a career in nursing, having worked in corporate life for years. Your article ... read more

    • Julia Orege 2 months ago
      Julia Orege
    • Julia Orege
      2 months ago

      Hi Shirin What a great article! You had clearly used alot of initiative to get a suitable placement in Tanzania ... read more