Resham Panesar - Medicine Electives in Nepal
Why I decided to volunteer in Nepal
The lure of Nepal’s wonderful culture, spectacular landscape and warm friendly people made it a perfect destination for my medical elective. I chose to organise my assignment through Projects Abroad which I did for a variety of reasons. Firstly, I knew I would be placed in a hospital where my skills would be utilised to their potential, secondly, it gave me the opportunity to meet other volunteers, and finally, I would stay with a "host" Nepalese family giving me a unique insight into the local customs.
The Host Family
I stayed with the Sakya family in the suburban district south of Kathmandu known as Patan. My host family were absolutely wonderful. They went over and above what was required of them, and really made me feel completely at home. I owe them so much for making my experience in Nepal so incredible.
The well-renowned Alka Hospital would be my base for 8 weeks. I worked in the Emergency department where I saw many different patients, formed diagnoses, and assisted in their care. The doctors in this department were both friendly and knowledgeable as were the nurses and paramedics. Straight away they made me feel comfortable and I enjoyed their company very much. I was asked lots of questions and was made to examine many patients by the emergency staff!
Within the department there were three other volunteers. One was a qualified Nurse and the others were pre-medical students on their gap year projects. It was a good opportunity for me to do some informal teaching with the pre-med students and give them advice on getting in to medical school.
The department was well-equipped and all the staff were proficient in cannulation, recording base-line observations, and suturing wounds. After shadowing them for a week I was allowed to perform these skills under supervision. The staff were very encouraging and gave me a strong sense self-belief. Their easy-going nature is something I will miss very much and by the end of the placement they became good friends.
Travelling and all the fun
Outside of the hospital the fun didn’t stop! Many of the other volunteers with Projects Abroad were of similar mind-set and we all enjoyed a good catch up on the week’s events in our off-time. We often planned weekend trips to spectacular tourist hot-spots. One of favourite destination for volunteers is “The Last Resort.” Set in the Himalayan foothills, in close proximity to the Tibetan border, the Last Resort offers adventure activities such as bungee jumping, rock climbing and white water rafting. Going there was certainly a highlight for me and sharing it with other Projects Abroad volunteers, who became friends for life, made it extra special.
Looking back on my time in Nepal I can only reflect positively. The organisation and support from Projects Abroad really enriched the whole experience. I would absolutely recommend Projects Abroad to individuals who are keen to make a difference and push their limits.