This experience was hands-down the most amazing two weeks of my life. The experience of shadowing hospitals in a foreign country is so valuable because I learned how different the health care system is compared to what I am used to. More importantly, I got to experience first hand what my dream profession would be like through shadowing incredibly talented mentors, as well as getting a feel for working in a hospital environment. Not only did I learn about medical procedures, medical conditions, etc., but I also learned a lot about which future profession truly suits me. I also made life-long friends with awesome like-minded people on this trip, and I will never forget the memories we made together. Aside from our shadowing placements in the hospital, we had the opportunity to experience Dominican culture through fun activities and excursions such as trips to the beach, ATVs, and a sunset cruise. This trip was the perfect blend of a valuable, academic shadowing experience and a fun, cultural immersion with amazing people.
What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
I was most afraid of going into this program without knowing anyone else I would be meeting, and I was not sure how easily I would fit in with everyone else. I overcame it by actively getting to know everyone, which made me realize I should not have been scared in the first place because the people I met were very like-minded and we all got along incredibly well.
Fellow students and I with our mentors at the private clinic
This experience leaves you fully appreciating the struggles a less economically developed country faces when it comes to medicine. The opportunity to shadow doctors in a variety of departments and explore the differences in treatment options for patients in the country compared to your own is incredible. I thoroughly enjoyed my placement, had lots of fun during the placement as well as in the activities. The staff are incredible from the moment they pick you up from the airport to saying goodbye. The rooms vary in size, normally sharing with 4/5 other people. There is always a night supervisor and security surrounding the house. The food is very good with plenty of options each night. After placement, there is a variety of fun activities such as a sunset cruise, horse riding, roller skating etc. Overall it was a very valuable experience as it is a great to talk about at interviews, whilst giving you extra work experience!
If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would stay for 2 weeks instead of 1. This would give me more chance to see private and public hospitals for comparison. I just went to the public hospital.
Yes, I recommend this program
Dominican Republic Nursing Placement
Oct 19, 2019
I spent 2 weeks in DR on placement for nursing in July and they were possibly the 2 best, and most formative, weeks of my life! I learnt a lot about my dream career and about myself as I spent time shadowing nurses providing primary care to very ill patient in the ER; watching nurses as they performed essential daily duties such as administering medication and vaccinations; and observing various surgeries including multiple c-sections and hernia removals! My hospital mentors were great and really helped to answer my questions and get me the most out of my time in the hospital. One highlight for me was a workshop lead by one particular mentor where we learnt (and practiced) how to suture using a pigs foot. I felt like a proper nurse!! Outside of the hospital, there were always loads of activities on offer. I went on the Saona Island day trip as well and doing ATV driving and getting my nails done with my friends- there really is something for everyone! However, my favourite afternoons were often the ones I spent reading by the pool or playing ‘water volleyball’ with my new friends. The people definitely made the experience for me. I am from Northern Ireland, but I now have friends from America, Canada, Spain, Greece... the list goes on. The staff were also really amazing- from lovely Tom who answered my every question from the day I signed up to the day I left, to Traben and Jess who became friends and people I could trust and talk to. Thank you!!!
If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would definitely make sure I took time by myself from day 1. Going from never knowing the people you are with to then being with them 24/7 is difficult. Some of the stuff you have to deal with on placement is emotionally very difficult and you need to take time to process this. More practically, you will be exhausted!! Placement is very full on and you’ll be busy pretty much every day- you need a break sometimes to regroup and think about what you are learning and that is ok!
Some of the girls from the placement with myself and one of our mentors. We got to practice putting plaster on each other!
Our first weekend in DR we spent a day on Saona Island- literally heaven.
Myself and one of my friends, who was on placement for medicine, observing a newborn who we just received out of theatre from a c-section.
These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.
I knew I wanted to do some kind of shadowing program/internship relating to medicine before applying to universities so that I would get a feel for what it is like to work in the medical field. Additionally, I knew this would be a great opportunity for me to see if a future in medicine is truly suited for me.
After spending hours researching a wide variety of programs, this one was the most intriguing: the website was very organized and easy to follow, and staff was able to answer all of my questions about the program.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
Before getting accepted into a program, I had to choose a date and location for my experience. I initially chose to go to Croatia, but there wasn't enough space for my available dates. However, the staff was able to quickly and efficiently solve the issue, in which I ended up going to the Dominican Republic.
After getting accepted, they provided me with every detail I needed to know (except for the flights which I had to book myself), such as who I would be living within the student house, where my hospital placements would be, who my mentors were, some information about the area I would be staying in, and a packing list.
View Entire Interview
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
One piece of advice would be to plan the trip way ahead of time, especially if you're planning to go in the summer.
I made the mistake of starting to apply to the program about a month or two before the departure date, and it was pretty stressful trying to prepare for the trip in such little time. Also, spots fill up very quickly, so by applying late you risk not getting into your top program choice. I got lucky, and with the amazing help from the staff overseas, I managed to get everything organized, although it would have been better if I had started planning a while before.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
Hospital placements always start early, so the day always starts with an early morning get up. It was hard at first, but you get used to it quickly. The chefs at the house prepare an amazing breakfast to start off the day.
After breakfast, everyone gets on the bus to go to their hospital placements, and the ride took about half an hour. Upon arriving at the hospital, we changed into our scrubs and waited for our mentors. My specific program was focused on surgery, so most of the time in placement was spent shadowing surgeons. When we weren't in the OR, our mentors would prepare lessons or workshops such as suturing pig feet.
Every day placement lasts for 5 hours, and we get back to the house in time for lunch: the chefs would put out leftovers from dinner the previous night.
After lunch, there is normally a fun, optional activity planned for the rest of the afternoon, such as going on a sunset cruise or going to the beach. Then, we would return for some delicious dinner and have free time to spend until lights out.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
My biggest fear was going into this program knowing none of the other students; switching schools so many times was hard enough, and I wasn't sure how well I would fit in with the group. I overcame it by putting myself out there and making an effort to get to know as many people as possible, where I realized that I shouldn't have been scared in the first place.
Everyone was so like-minded since we all had an interest in medicine. I met the most amazing people during this experience, and the worst part was leaving them two weeks later. I realized that being outside of my comfort zone can sometimes be the best thing that can happen and that some of the greatest memories come from these once seemingly scary experiences.
What was the most memorable part of this experience?
What always comes to mind whenever I think back to this experience is the spinal surgery I saw.
Most surgeries we observed were general surgeries, such as abdominal hernia repairs, gall bladder removals, etc. One day, a patient came in complaining of back pain, and it was determined that she had a spinal disk out of place (aka a spinal hernia) and it needed to be operated on. The surgeon went in through the front of the neck, and replaced parts of the disc with synthetic material. I don't even remember how long it was, but it felt like barely any time had passed.
We all stood there for hours, mesmerized at how the surgeon worked his way around such a delicate part of the body. It was honestly one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had, and it was then that I was sure that surgery is the ideal career path for me.