Sheryl Diprose - Medicine & Healthcare, Nursing and Midwifery in Ghana
As part of my Nursing Course we had an opportunity to undertake a clinical placement of our choice either in the UK or abroad. Helen (a course mate) and I decided that we wanted to go abroad with Projects Abroad and decided on Ghana for our 4 week placement in March-April 2008. We were placed in Cape Coast, which is along the coast west of Accra.
We were living with a host family in a town, Abura, which is just outside of Cape Coast and only a 4 minute taxi ride to our placement. Our host family were very friendly and the food was delicious. There were also between 2-4 other volunteers in the house during our time there who were taking part in various volunteering projects and in Ghana for varying lengths of time. This was nice as most of them had been in Ghana for a while so were able to show us around and knew the good bars, beaches and places to visit. In Cape Coast there were many volunteers around and as it is fairly small we were able to meet up every night (our favorite spots including Tina Tavern, Oasis and the egg sandwich lady).
We undertook our 4 week placement at Adisadel Urban Health Center which provided medical care for the local community. It was an amazing experience and we learnt a lot especially surrounding conditions that are not often seen in the UK such as malaria, typhoid, and sickle cell. The doctors and nursing staff were very friendly and welcoming. We were able to spend time observing and participating in doing injections, wound dressings, watching minor surgical procedures, carrying out observations in the recovery room and booking in patients which included taking manual blood pressures. As well as doing nursing jobs I spent some time in the consulting room, laboratory and pharmacy which was very interesting and allowed me to understand and observe the roles of the various professionals. We also helped out on a medical outreach program which involved helping out with a baby clinic (weighing children to check their growth, health promotion and vaccinations) in a rural village.
After our month of placement we went traveling around Ghana for 2 weeks. It is possible to do the main places of interest but if we had a bit longer we could have gone to some of the places, such as right up north or to Togo, which we wanted to go to but didn’t have time. I would definitely recommend a visit to Kakum National Park, Beyin and Mole National Park to name a few!
The Projects Abroad staff were very helpful and supportive throughout our stay. The first day induction introduced us to the local food (such as yam and groundnut soup) and pointed out important places such as the bank, post office and prices of line taxis / tro-tros. They were in frequent contact with phone calls and the weekly quiz night.
Ghana was definitely a once in a lifetime, amazing experience. The culture, lifestyle and healthcare did come as a shock but having experienced the simple lifestyle for the short time I was there has definitely made me appreciate how fortunate I am. Ghana is such a nice country and I would love to return at some point.