‘Eye opening’ Cambodian hospital experience secures dream job for Jessica

‘Eye opening’ Cambodian hospital experience secures dream job for Jessica

A student nurse who visited Cambodia on a placement returned to the news she had secured her dream job as a nurse at Carlisle's Cumberland Infirmary, well ahead of her graduation in November.

Jessica Everett, 23, from Penrith,  who is a third year adult nursing student at the University of Cumbria, scored a highly sought-after role on Beech Oncology and Haematology ward at the hospital and will take up her position in September.

She has just completed her final placement on the Willow B Renal ward and has said that her experience of Cambodian healthcare system has made her appreciate the NHS all the more.

Jessica, who is more accustomed to the rolling hills surrounding the Cumbrian village of Plumpton, visited Phnom Penh in Cambodia as part of a two-week elective nursing placement with Work the World* to experience the difference of healthcare provision in a developing country.

Jessica said: “Being a student nurse from the UK, conditions in my Cambodian placement hospitals were worlds apart from what I’d seen back home.”

“I spent time in two obstetrics and gynaecology wards and a general medicine ward. Seeing what Cambodian staff and patients had to deal with led me to have a greater appreciation of the NHS, which we often take for granted.

She continued: “Regularly I saw 30 patients to a room whereas in Cumbria it is five.”

“Patients paying fees before receiving vital treatments was confronting. Even when they did manage to pay, the conditions of the hospital and the levels of treatment were still substandard to the UK.”

Pain relief was rarely used and it was extremely challenging for Jessica to watch patients suffer.

In one case, a lady endured severe burns trying to put out her son, who had set himself alight in an attempted suicide bid.  

Jessica said: “Her dressings were changed daily but it seemed they were only making her wounds worse. They were applied dry and when removed, pulled away the healing skin.”

She added: “Due to relatively high cost of pain relief, she had to go without.”

Jessica felt that the placement was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and her learnings will stay with her for the rest of her career.

She said: “the one downside of nursing in the UK is that the job can become very task-orientated and one can lose sight of what is important, which is looking after your patients.”

Jessica is particularly keen to develop a good ‘bed side manner’ and building relationships with patients when she takes up her new job. Something she found a challenge in Cambodia when she couldn’t speak the language.

She summed up: “The experience has given me a renewed respect for the NHS. I had my eyes opened as to what things could be like and it has made me appreciate just how lucky we are in the UK.”

Jessica has plans to travel over the summer and will work as a health care assistant in between trips.

In the future, she intends to visit Tanzania to help deliver medical supplies and would love to nurse in America.

Jen Logan, Senior Lecturer in Adult Nursing, believes Jessica upholds professional standards of care at all times.

She said: “Jessica has known for quite a while where she wanted to work as a registered nurse and I am delighted that she has secured her preferred job on the Oncology and Haematology ward. She will be an asset to any nursing team.”

This news comes as up to 4,000 people flocked to Carlisle Cathedral for the University of Cumbria’s 2019 summer graduations.

Around 1,000 graduands successfully completed courses in many professional areas such as health, nursing, teaching, law and in scientific fields including forestry, conservation and zoology.