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Volunteering abroad: how I became captivated with nursing

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Volunteering in Ghana taught Jodie some unexpected lessons that she’s able to take forward into her nursing career

Becoming a volunteer made me realise that I wanted to work with vulnerable people. This life experience showed me I wanted to improve quality of life as well as facilitate the process of making people better.

When I applied to a government organisation to volunteer in a foreign country I was absolutely terrified. But I completed an application and was interviewed and was ecstatic to hear I was successful.

It felt like I was going for Big Brother but abroad! Especially as I didn’t know who was going to be in my group until I got to the airport hotel the night before!

“I didn’t know who was going to be in my group until I got to the airport hotel”

I found out I was going to a village in Ghana to help build a library for a small community, support teaching in the schools and on a Wednesday afternoon I was to go and assist in the local hospital.

After the excitement of arriving in Ghana, making new friends and soaking up this completely new environment, it was time to get to work.

We arrived in the small village surrounded by very basic buildings of just concrete and dusty roads and the local people were so welcoming. They couldn’t do enough for us; getting us drinks each and helping us carry our luggage to the rooms we were staying in.

The next day we were taken to the site of where we were to start this new project and I knew team work was going to be crucial. The outlines of the building were marked but there was so much rubbish! So we all pulled together in the heat and started to clear up before we could move any further.

“We had a laugh and giggle to keep team morale high”

We had locals bringing us bags and bags of water and we had a laugh and giggle to keep team morale high and just kept each other going. This is one of the assets I feel is integral in healthcare. Excellent teamwork and support for your co-workers is fundamental, especially when under pressure.

Working in the hospital made me appreciate what we have in terms of NHS resources in the UK compared to a less economically developed country. During a surgical procedure I witnessed a power cut and the surgical team powered through the procedure off the generator but at the disadvantage of having no air conditioning. I was so inspired by the determination of the surgical team to do their best in the unpredictable circumstances they encountered.

“I was so inspired by the determination of the surgical team”

Taking the lead in teaching the curriculum to the local children taught me management, organisation and leadership skills. All of which I have been able to bring to the profession of nursing.

This experience enabled me to swiftly build relationships with those I’m talking to regardless of race, religion, position, age, background circumstances, status or appearance.    


Jodie Cox is in her second year studying children’s nursing at University of Nottingham

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