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Clinical placement in Nepal: an interview with Ruth Jones

In May last year, Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine, in partnership with Projects Abroad, offered one lucky medical student the chance to practice their clinical skills abroad in an international placement. The winner was Ruth Jones from the University of Nottingham, who impressed the judging panel with her sincerity, dedication, and willingness to become the best doctor she can be. Ruth has decided to take her placement in Nepal.

Earlier this year, we caught up with Ruth to find out more about her plans for her placement.

Why Nepal?

I had nearly the whole world to choose from, so it took quite a lot of thinking to narrow down the options. I wanted a placement that included three things: I wanted to choose somewhere that couldn’t rely on technology or equipment to inform diagnosis or treatment; I wanted the option of working in an emergency as well as a  community setting; and of course, I wanted to visit an amazing country! The shortlist included the Cook Islands, the Solomon Islands, and Tanzania, but Nepal seemed to be the best fit.

What do you hope to achieve on the placement?

By the time I go on my placement, I will have completed my final exams. I’m really hoping to put into practise all of the skills I’ve been working on for the past three years, as well as gaining confidence in them. Above all, my main concern is helping those in need while I’m out there.

Ruth Jones
Ruth Jones, winner of the 2014 OHCM Clinical Placement Competition

What do you expect to encounter in your day to day work?

I’m planning on working in a trauma setting, in a hospital in Kathmandu, as well as participating in community outreach work to more remote villages. From what I’ve read, attempted suicides, homicides, and road traffic accidents are the top causes of admission to trauma units in Nepal, so this is what I’m expecting to see. The community outreach work is aimed at providing free health checks and basic medications to villages usually too far away or too impoverished to receive medical assistance.

What aspect of the placement are you looking forward to the most?

That’s a tricky one! I’m looking forward to everything about it — it’s my main motivation for hitting the books every evening and weekend at the moment. Of course, I’m really looking forward to seeing how medicine is practised in Nepal, but I’m also very excited about the opportunity to walk some Himalayan foothills.

What are your plans for the future, after the placement and beyond?

I was in the RAF before I returned to university, so I’ll be re-joining as a Medical Officer. My FY1 year is within the West Midlands Deanery, so I have that to look forward to. As for my eventual specialty; it’s too early to say definitively, but so far I’ve really enjoyed the time I’ve spent in Emergency Medicine, and in GP surgeries, so I think those two are my front runners right now.

Finally, what drew you to Medicine in the first place?

I definitely didn’t grow up dreaming of being a doctor; I thought I was neither clever nor committed enough to study it. I originally trained as a PE teacher before joining the RAF as a training and development officer. It was after I came back from deployment that I asked myself whether I would look back on my career, and think that I’d achieved everything I was capable of. A profession combining intellectual rigour with the opportunity to help people seems like the perfect job to me. And the fact I have the chance to return to the RAF to serve as a doctor is an extra bonus.

Featured image: Great Stupa of Bodnath, Kathmandu valley, Nepal, by Jean-Marie Hullot. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Recent Comments

  1. Joe Niemczura

    Hi Ruth – congrats. You are invited to read one or both of my two books about contemporary health acre in Nepal – The Hospital at the End of the World, or The Sacrament of the Goddess. Each of these was written just for persons like you who needed to become familiar with the actual challenges here. I am still in Kathmandu, teaching critical care skills for “CCNEPal” a small NGO. Best wishes!

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