In the third year of the bachelor there is the choice to do a short internship abroad in a country of your own interest. This academic year I did an internship abroad in Tanzania together with 4 other students. After learning a lot about healthcare in the Netherlands during the first 2 years of the bachelor, we thought it would be interesting to look at healthcare from a completely different perspective. We were ready for something different than the college benches, so we spent a month in a hospital in Tanzania, doing research on patient-centered healthcare.
Every day of internship was different and we did not know what to expect every morning. Many days consisted mainly of waiting, waiting and waiting again. Nobody tells you what to do, but you really have to take the initiative and follow everything yourself. Still, I would like to pick out one day to describe what a day of internship in Tanzania looks like. I chose a day where a lot happened and which I still remember well.
We woke up at 7 in the morning and left for our internship around 8. We took the local bus, also called the ‘dalla dalla’. It was exciting every morning whether or not a bus would pass by that is completely full. The buses didn’t come at set times, so we never knew if we would get to our internship on time. But it was our lucky day this day, the dalla dalla was on time and we all fit in. We arrived at the hospital around 9 and always walked past the lab technician Marc, who always greeted us sweetly. After this we divided the group into 2 and each group went to its own department.
Today I went to the pediatric ward. We changed clothes at pediatrics and waited for the check-up round to begin. This round usually started around 9:30 a.m. The doctor, together with the nurses, went through all the mothers and children lying there and took various measurements. We mostly observed and the doctor occasionally explained things to us. The last patient was in the burning room and this child was completely covered in burns. We learned later that this child went home because the mother did not want to pay for care. In Tanzania, it means that if you don’t want to pay for care, you can’t be helped. We found this very upsetting to hear. Unfortunately, we don’t know how it ended with the child. After this, the doctor told a mother in the ward that her child was seriously ill. Mother was very shocked and started to cry, but the doctor and nurses walked away. This is something we are obviously not used to in the Netherlands. The nurses showed no empathy. We could not stand this and quickly walked up to the mother to ask if we could do something for her. We did this in English, but we soon found out that this mother, like many others, did not speak a word of English. We used Google Translate and were able to communicate with her this way. She told us she would like a glass of water and wanted to go outside for a while. At the end of the day, she told us via Google Translate that god will bless us and that she was immensely grateful for our help.
There was another child present, named Jayson. He was finally allowed to leave the hospital today and was super happy. We had fun playing and drawing with him. It was fun to put smiles on their faces and see the children happy again. Around 3 o’clock our day was over and we headed back home on the dalla dalla. Near the hospital was a large supermarket, so here we often did some shopping. In the afternoons, we sometimes did some fun outings with the other volunteers, but often we also stayed at home.
Besides the internship, we had a lot of spare time and were able to see much of Tanzania itself. For example, we were able to do a wonderful 3-day safari in between the internship weeks! After the intense, but super informative weeks in the hospital, we were ready for some rest before returning to the busy Netherlands. We ended our internship period with a week in the beautiful Zanzibar.
Doing an internship abroad is the perfect opportunity to combine study with travel. We would recommend an internship abroad to everyone!
SHARE is the Faculty Association of the study ‘Health Policy and Management’ at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.
Faculty Association SHARE
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