My University Placement In Zambia
Earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to be given a travel grant of £350 from the Kendrick Trustees, despite no-longer being a student at the school, which was a great help towards funding a university placement I was undertaking in Zambia in Africa.
After leaving Kendrick in summer 2016, I began a 3-year degree in Physiotherapy at Cardiff University. Throughout these 3 years, I had to complete 8 different 4-week placements in numerous hospitals around Wales, each a compulsory component of my degree; however, I then decided to make my 8th and final placement an oversees elective placement in Africa.
The trip was a phenomenal experience. I was in Zambia for 5-weeks from the 28th April 2019 until the 1st June 2019; where I spent 4-weeks working in the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in Lusaka, the capital city. One week was also spent in a smaller village called Chirundu, where I attended rural health clinics and witnessed the challenges facing healthcare in less fortunate environments.
Whilst working in UTH, I experienced Physiotherapy in many different settings: intensive care, paediatrics, outpatients, orthopaedics and on general wards. It was fascinating to witness how Physiotherapy is provided in a country with significantly less resources than we have here in the UK. Although I was faced with many challenging, upsetting and often infuriating situations; it was overall such an eye-opening experience and I learnt a lot throughout my time there. As not all of the locals were fluent in English, my communication skills were continually challenged, which was particularly interesting whilst working alongside local physiotherapists and physiotherapy students; as they always wanted us to explain our ideas and treatment approaches to them.
Although the hospital experience was hard work at times, we were rewarded with evenings and weekends off to explore the beautiful country – I went on an amazing river safari, visited the incredible Victoria Falls, went white-water rafting and did a land safari too!
As well as all this, I also learnt a lot about the local culture. We had weekly language lessons to learn the basics of their most common official language ‘Nyanja’ (although Zambia actually has 72 official languages!) and had to do all of our clothes washing by hand. Whilst staying in the rural village ‘Chirundu’ for a week, I lived with a local family in their home and was taught how to cook the local staple food called ‘nshima’. Finally, we also had several dance evenings where we were taught traditional Zambian dances by local students – it was great fun!
Having just graduated from university in July 2019; I am now a fully qualified Chartered Physiotherapist due to begin my next journey working for the NHS. I am incredibly grateful that I was fortunate enough to be able to do such a trip and am beyond thankful for the Kendrick Trustees for the financial help they provided me; as this experience is one I know I will carry with me throughout my upcoming career as a physiotherapist.
N.B. consent was gained for all photographs