My name is Krystal Edwards and I am an RN from Canada. Over the past 4 weeks I had been volunteering as a nurse in one of the local hospitals where I was living in Ghana. I chose a volunteer project because I’ve always wanted to experience nursing in a country that was not my own. I wanted to know what obstacles might be presented and experience different ways to enhance my nursing practice. Practicing as a nurse in Ghana was completely different then the way I practice back home. The hospital that I had been working in was a small regional hospital, which is much smaller then what I am use to. Being a nurse at this particular hospital presented many challenges and obstacles for me.
I had to rely heavily on my own critical thinking and clinical findings to help care for my patients and learn to not rely on other diagnostic tools such as cardiac monitors and lab values.
Because of the size of the hospital and lack of funding not many diagnostic tools and interventions were readily available. For example many of the routine tests that my patients undergo back home like a CT scan or an ultrasound were not available.
The hospital also was not equip with an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) so when patients became critically ill they were forced to stay on the floor unless they had the means to be able to be transferred to a larger surrounding hospital. The delegation of tasks between healthcare professionals was also very different. I found that a lot of the doctors here played the role of physician and nurse where as back home I feel that I play the role of nurse and physician. The scope of practice of the nurses here is also much smaller. Simple interventions like NG tubes and taking blood are not mandated in the nurse’s scope of practice so more responsibilities fall onto the shoulders of the physicians.
I also found that the language barrier between me and the patients was hard to get past. Because of the remote location of the hospital many of the patients knew little if any English. However the physicians and nurses did a good job at bridging the gap. Never the less my experience as a nurse here was very eye opening and has really helped shape how I will practice as a nurse in the future. This experience has also given me a greater appreciation for the healthcare system that Canada has in place.
Overall my experience with uVolunteer was terrific. The dorm that we stayed in was very clean and safe which were two very important points for me.
Wi-Fi was touch and go but overall was decent. The food we ate was traditional Ghanaian dishes, some I really enjoyed and some not so much. But it defiantly helped to enhances the cultural experience. The uVolunteer staffs were available around the clock and were more than willing to help out if needed. I would definitely recommended uVolunteer Ghana to anyone who is seeking a bit of adventure and is willing to be submerged into a different culture.
Thanks uVolunteer for an eye opening experience.