Shahzeb Ali

November 11, 2016, by Joe Ward

My Week in an Emergency Room in Croatia

By Shahzeb Ali, BSc Medical Physiology and Therapeutics

Are you interested in undertaking work experience in another country, but worried about the cost? The International Work Experience Grant can offer up to £1,000 to support you.

Designed to enable students to undertake work experience opportunities that they might not otherwise be able to afford, the grant will support expenses such as accommodation, travel and visas, living costs and vaccinations.

In this blog, we meet Shahzeb Ali, a medical physiology and therapeutics undergraduate, who shadowed an ER doctor and trauma and orthopaedic surgeon at Gap Medics in Croatia.

Can you give us some details of your placement?

My work experience placement involved shadowing an Emergency Room (ER) doctor for a week and a trauma and orthopaedic surgeon for a week. In both wards, we rotated with different doctors, seeing multiple aspects of each ward and getting a better idea of what they all contained. I made notes and observed doctor patient interactions in a variety of settings.

What new skills did you learn?

I independently organised my work experience out of curiosity, showing my independence and interest in the field. I then went there, organising all the activities leading up to it such as booking travel.

Once there, I soaked in all that I learned and made notes on it. Upon returning to England, I started writing a comparative essay, comparing how the healthcare system in Croatia compares to that of the UK, analysing what was effective in both countries and what wasn’t as effective, broadening my knowledge of global healthcare systems.

What would you say was your greatest achievement?

Due to the fact that this experience was so unique in so many different ways, it’s difficult to mention a single achievement. Before leaving for my placement, I was concerned about the whole integration and independence aspect.

I caught three flights over the course of a day with no one else to rely on and having never had to catch a single flight alone prior to this experience, and joined a house full of people with a wide range of backgrounds and interests.

By focusing on the seemingly large task and breaking it down into individual small tasks; for example, pack X, Y and Z items, check I have X, Y and Z with me, leave for airport at X time; I managed to overcome what I felt was a huge challenge, while admittedly nervous and tired due to the early morning flights.

To be able to prove to myself that I was capable of doing something on that scale by breaking things down into their constituent actions was a huge confidence booster and put me in a good ‘can-do’ mind frame for the experience ahead of me.

What would you say was the biggest challenge, and how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge was retaining all the information I had learned and being able to break it down and learn from all that had happened. This was achieved by having a reflective session for half an hour or so before bed.

This gave me time to think about all the activities I had done over the day, plus some that I had made notes on specifically that I wanted to learn more about.

I then thought about what I had seen and done, reflected on what I had learned and maybe what I could take away from it. This allowed me to still be involved in social activities and enjoy my time there whilst still learning from the experience.

Can you give us three top tips to share with other students thinking of doing a placement abroad?

  1. Don’t be afraid to try something new, and embrace the new culture while you are there. Dive into it and appreciate it as the time will fly by
  2. The harder the challenge may seem, the more it’s worth doing
  3. Don’t forget to have fun! The experience should be enjoyable as well as informative, so remember to take time to appreciate it

If you want to get more details on the International Work Experience Grant and could help you fund some work experience overseas, visit our webpage to find out what it can be used for and your eligibility. You can also complete an expression of interest for funding, which will be assessed by our team.

You should also read our information about internships abroad and the things you need to consider when applying for work experience in another country.

Posted in International Work Experience Grant