You don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone
As a third-year Adult Nursing student, I undertook a four-week nursing placement in India based at Tagore private hospital and Agora clinic situated in the slum areas of Jaipur. For me, it was important that I took advantage of the opportunity to explore nursing in a developing country that is rich and diverse in culture and traditions. My aim was to gain an understanding of how acute and community care of adults differs between India and Scotland through observing and participating in different health settings.
Initially before beginning my placement I was worried about working alongside nurses with language barriers present, however, all nurses were welcoming, friendly and hospitable from the moment I began my elective placement. Nothing was ever a hassle, they were happy to answer my plentiful questions and tailor my placement to my interests in surgical nursing. At Tagore hospital I had the opportunity to care for patients in general surgical wards who had undergone surgery’s ranging from plastic surgery, orthopaedic to general. As well as this I was able to spend time in the operating theatres helping and assisting the theatre scrub nurses.
Despite policy being evident and posters on the walls regarding infection control and effective hand hygiene this was not always implemented, and infection control seemed very inconsistent in clinical areas. Not only were the clinical environments I faced inadequately cleaned and unhygienic, I feel I had to become used to working in settings that were severely under-equipped. The one surgical ward only had the use of one manual blood pressure sphygmomanometer, a stethoscope and a broken thermometer.
Following the hospital placement, I spent two weeks in a slum clinic that offered care to patients who live below the poverty line. This enabled me to experience healthcare in rural areas and I was able to identify how the way people live directly influenced their health. It was clear to see in Jaipur that the underfunded systems, underpaid staff and lack of medical supplies challenged the medical infrastructure. Even though there were comparatively fewer resources and unhygienic conditions these aspects would never compromise the patient care as the doctors and nurses worked tirelessly 6 days a week to ensure waste was kept to a minimum and patient recovery was as rapid as possible, traits I would say I have witnessed in doctors and nurses back home working in the NHS.
My experience has been an extremely valuable insight into healthcare outside of the NHS where care provided was not free at the point of entry for patients. It has not only aided my professional but also my personal development. The placement was fantastic in providing me opportunities to improve my communication and listening skills through interacting with the nurses and patients whilst engaging in nursing interventions and comparing the differences in healthcare, nursing training, common illnesses and nursing practice between Scotland and India. My confidence has also increased as I was constantly pushing myself in order to gain the most out of the opportunities available.