Chloe travelled to Pokhara in 2019. She has since graduated and has started work as a qualified Emergency Department nurse.
“I always wanted to be a nurse. Part of it is probably because my sister spent some time in hospital when she was little, and I was constantly in and out of hospitals with her. I remember appreciating the people who looked after her and thinking I wanted to do something like that.
I chose to study at Bangor University as I wanted to stay near to where I lived and that our local hospitals were, and still are, really good. I did a lot of work experience in local hospitals before I went on to study nursing. I enjoyed the dynamic of the hospitals and got close to the people I worked with, and thought I wanted to stay in that area. I’d also heard that Bangor University was brilliant for nursing too and I just thought, “I’ll go for it.”!
It was scary to start the course because I thought, “Gosh, this is actually quite real now.” But it was brilliant once I settled in. It was a bit of a whirlwind, but there was a lot of support and my tutors were fantastic.
I’d always wanted to go overseas, even before I started to get into nursing. So when the opportunity came along to do an overseas placement as part of my course, it felt like a perfect fit. When I was in my second year I did a lot of research into different providers and Work the World clearly offered the best service, their stories from previous students gave me confidence and brought the whole thing to life.
Bangor were brilliant because they were really open to the idea of me travelling. They didn’t know a lot about what was involved at first, but they went out of their way to research with me and help me with the whole process.
I’d never done any travelling before so I was nervous, but it was exciting as well. And when I landed in Nepal it was like, “This is happening!” The Work the World team were there waiting to pick us up from the airport and I just remember how things that might seem small were just amazing to me. Those first 24 hours were surreal!
The hospital was scary at first. I wanted to get experience in the Emergency Department, and I was the only student on that ward but the local staff were amazing. They got me involved as much as they could and they were so friendly.
I saw snake bites, serious burns, a case of hypothermia, a cranioplasty, a craniotomy… I got to see so many surgeries as well – stuff that I’d never seen before and stuff that I’d never dreamed of being able to see.
There were a lot of pregnancy complications that ended in emergency C sections. And I saw one serious case of hydrocephalus, which is where the baby’s head swells up prenatally, it’s unbelievably rare regardless of the country you’re in. So the fact that I got to see that case and follow it through was amazing.
A lot of the procedures are different in Nepal than how we practice in the NHS. You go there expecting it to be different, but actually seeing it for yourself blows your mind. You think, “Is this real, am I actually seeing this?”
Patient privacy isn’t really a thing there. It’s not that it doesn’t exist, but patients don’t seem to really expect it. With examinations, patients would just whip their top off in front of everyone and that was just the norm. Another big difference was that patients had to pay for everything themselves. If they couldn’t pay, they didn’t get the treatment. That made me realise how much we take for granted in the NHS.
To be honest, I struggled a bit when I came back to the UK. Having seen what life can be like for people in a low-resource country, I found it hard to bite my tongue when I heard people complaining about what they didn’t have. I’ve always been a person who’s just gotten on with things, but my experience in Nepal made me even more like that. I gained so much knowledge during my time there as well. I got a lot of experience with different conditions, and I brought back techniques I’d never seen.
My confidence grew considerably as a result of going to Nepal. I’ve always been quite a shy person, but the experience changed me.
Obviously, my final year was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. It was a massive learning curve. I started off on ITU and was there for eight months until I got put on placement on a covid ward. From a clinical perspective, I got experience with a lot of respiratory problems while I was in Nepal, as the pollution is quite bad in the cities so people there have more issues in that area. This really helped me to prepare for working through the pandemic.
I would wholeheartedly recommend an overseas placement to nursing students, the experience pushes you out of your comfort zone and it changes your life. If I could do it again next week, I would!”