CALCULATING THE COSTS
One of the first and biggest questions asked when planning a global health placement is
‘how much is this going to cost me?’.
Whilst budgeting is very important, there are a few
other costs that you may not have considered.
Financial and resource costs to your hosts: whilst we usually work within a disposable NHS, the added cost of extra gowns and gloves when having a visiting student assisting in theatre could be crippling to a host in a low-resource setting. Could you being there cost the host more than you contribute? Is this something you could establish with your host beforehand? How are you able to off-set the costs to your host? If you are going to a resource-poor setting, could you supply the resources that you yourself will use?
Opportunity costs: time and resources spent on visiting students could be time and resources not spent on local students or on provision of care. This is what is known as an opportunity cost. Whilst RP NWG recommend choosing a placement that involves working alongside local students, how can you ensure that you aren’t taking away valuable learning opportunities away from them? After all, local students are more likely to stay to serve the local population long after you’ve left. Using a trained nurse as a translator for you to take histories might be a poor use of a trained nurse. If you have language skills, you might want to consider going somewhere that wouldn’t require a translator
Environmental costs: how can you consider the environmental, as well as time and financial, costs of travelling to your placement? Are there any greener travel options available?