Katie used her Scholarship Funding to travel and work in Malaysia
“I used the scholarship from Cavell Nurses' Trust to organise a placement in the accident and emergency department at Sarawak General Hospital in Malaysia.
"I was soon able to get involved with emergency nursing care. In my first week on the ward I experienced 3 cardiac arrests. This is something I had not yet experienced in the UK so it was both nerve wracking and exciting to be able to help the medical team with the compressions and patient observations during the event. I also gained experience with other nursing procedures such as cannulation, catheterisation and wound dressings.
"It found it particularly interesting working in an accident and emergency department of a developing country. In Malaysia, the only available primary care services were maternity clinics, so all trauma and acute cases and a wide range of minor illnesses, such as adults with exhaustion and dehydration to babies with fever, were presented at the accident and emergency department. This highlighted to me the importance of the sound primary care service which we have in the UK. This lack of primary care service in Malaysia meant that patients had to travel very far for medical assistance and minor illness often kept the department very busy.
After 2 weeks of working in the accident and emergency department I joined a charity team (Sai Baba) working with rural communities. This charity sends medical assistance to communities in Malaysia where the people are unable to access healthcare services. The team consisted of a doctor, a pharmacist, two dentists, a traditional healer and a couple of support personnel.
At the clinic at Belaga, which catered for a population of 40,000, there was a team of medical assistants and only one qualified doctor. In Asap, which was even more remote and with a similar population, a doctor made a visit once every 2 weeks! Whilst in the clinic in Asap I also assisted the nurses to run a maternity clinic.
It was great to experience community healthcare and to see the similarities and differences in healthcare when compared to the UK. The major difference is the ease of to access to healthcare services and it has a profound impact on people’s health.
Overall I had a fantastic experience on my elective placement. It gave me the opportunity to experience what healthcare is like in developing countries, and the difficulties these populations face regarding access to healthcare. It has also enabled me to get exposure to many different cultures and beliefs which again have a great impact on people’s health. I had to conduct myself in a confident and professional manner despite being in a very unfamiliar culture and unable to communicate in the local languages. I have learnt that there is much that is universal about nursing throughout the world. I have brought back an appreciation of the value of communication in everyday healthcare settings and a unique set of experiences that will equip me to practice in an effective and compassionate manner for people from very diverse backgrounds. That blend of healthcare expertise and cultural sensitivity has come from my experiences in Malaysia but will be equally relevant in the UK.”