Student nurses at the University of Bradford have gained an entirely fresh perspective on healthcare after undertaking work placements across Africa, supported by the Turing Scheme.
The continent is a popular destination for nursing and other healthcare undergraduates, who get first-hand experience of how services are impacted and delivered in less affluent countries than the United Kingdom.
Second year BSc Nursing (Adult) student Charlotte Marcon decided to spend four weeks working at Mawenzi Regional Hospital in Moshi, Tanzania, to gain essential work experience and a better understanding of the differences in healthcare worldwide.
“It was one of the best experiences of my life,” she said. “Although challenging, experiencing healthcare in a low-resource hospital in Africa has opened my eyes to a whole new world of healthcare.
The experience was life changing
“It has given me an understanding of the everyday challenges professionals face day in, day out, which we would otherwise take for granted in the UK.
“Doctors enjoyed hearing my perspective and comparing their healthcare to that in the UK. It was incredible to learn how local staff found ways to make the most with what very little they have. As the hospital was so under-resourced, the doctors come up with clever ways to avoid the limitations.
“My medical experience in Tanzania encouraged me to be hands on and practice skills as well as develop new knowledge. It has given me personal growth and confidence, academic enhancement, cultivated cultural intelligence and increased my employability for the future.
“I have challenged myself to gain a different perspective of healthcare which I can take with me for the rest of my career. I have seen first-hand major differences in the fundamentals of nursing practice and truly appreciate healthcare as we know it in the UK more than ever. The experience was life changing.”
Fellow BSc Nursing (Adult) student Chantal Purvis similarly undertook a four-week placement in Ghana.
“The opportunity to go on an overseas nursing placement was an incredibly eye-opening experience and I am grateful for having been given the chance,” she said. “Ghana is a country full of smiles and the people received me with open arms.
“I immersed myself entirely into the Ghanaian way of life, by staying with a local family for four weeks in the city of Cape Coast.
“I spent time in several different wards including Paediatrics, Neonates Intensive Care Unit, Male Surgical Ward, Female Medical Ward, ICU, Dialysis and Surgery.
Once-in-a-lifetime trip and experience
“My degree is in Adult Nursing, but my experience in Ghana gave me insight into looking after patients of all ages, including children and neonates. This learning matters as I will be working alongside children throughout my career, regardless of my career path as an adult nurse.”
Carla Chyriwsky is also studying for a BSc in Adult Nursing and also spent four weeks working in Tanzania. She was grateful to have received Turing Scheme funding to support her trip.
“I had the most incredible time on this once-in-a-lifetime trip and experience,” she said. “I feel incredibly lucky to have been accepted for the Turing grant, as without that I wouldn’t have been able to go.
“Going to Tanzania, really opened my eyes. Patient care is very different to what you see in England, but they try their best with the resources they have. I learned a lot working in the hospital and it really enhanced my knowledge of the different specialisations. Working in the hospital in Tanzania really helped me build my confidence and resilience.”
Of course, when not working, the students have time to experience the culture and sights of their host countries as well as socialise with other students on similar placements.
“During my time in Tanzania I visited Zanzibar, which is the most beautiful place I have ever seen,” said Carla. “I also visited many of the islands in Dar es Salaam, went to a Tanzanian football match, visited a school and went on safari.
“I met an array of different students, from nurses to medical students, paramedics, physios, midwives and dentists. I learnt so much from all of them.”
These aspiring nurses are among 828 students from the University of Bradford to be supported by £1,605,286 of funding to study or work abroad during the first three years of the Turing Scheme.
Long-term impact on students
Destinations range from Australia to Zambia and as well as short-term placements some students have spent whole semesters or a full year studying abroad.
Carlos Santos E Sousa, International Opportunities and Exchange Partnerships Manager, said: “We are thrilled to continue to offer students the opportunity to go abroad, predominantly those from widening participation (WP) backgrounds.
“Overseas placements have a long-term impact on students’ academic performance and employability prospects, particularly short-term placements. It also allows them to work around their commitments at home, including those with care responsibilities and part-time jobs.
“All students are eligible to apply for the grants. However, the UB will prioritise WP applications, in line with the Turing Scheme and the University’s strategy on improving social mobility and improving people’s life chances.”
Find out more about higher education funding opportunities with the Turing Scheme