How would a typical day as a nurse on the medical/surgical ward look like?

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My day starts around 8am with the daily ward round. This includes both doctors and nurses. We care for the patients, giving medication, carrying out clinical observations and applying dressings. This is very similar to the UK. The major difference is that we don’t always have the supplies or resources needed for the care, so we have to think outside of the box to come up with alternatives. The outpatient department will review patients in the early part of the morning and afternoon. During this time we will have new admissions coming to the ward.

Occasionally there are emergency admissions, either someone very unwell or as a result of an accident. They come straight to the ward. We notify the doctor on call and start treating the patient as their condition presents.

I work alongside the Head of Departments. Together we are able to learn from each other and decide on different ways to improve patient care. This has led to us being able to do some training within the hospital setting which has been a great encouragement. Every day is varied. Some days, when it is quiet, it is lovely to be able to go to the other wards and visit the staff, the patients and their families where we can talk and pray with them.

Can you share some challenges that you may face when working within the hospital?

Sarah M At Holley

There are definitely some challenges to face working within a different culture. Often the patients we are treating have sought herbal remedies, or will have gone to local clinics where the cost is greatly reduced but the physicians are not adequately trained. Usually, when they come to our hospital their condition has deteriorated, which increases their stay within the hospital setting. In some cases patients and their family have left it too long to come to hospital. It is difficult knowing that if these patients were being treated in the UK healthcare system the outcome may be very different. We are blessed in the UK with the resources for medical treatment. Here the staff are working with limited resources to save patients lives, and are doing a great job.

Have there been any encouraging moments for you during your stay so far?

I am very encouraged by the staff that I am working alongside. They are working in conditions where they have to think of ways to treat patients with limited resources. I am often amazed at the creative ways that pieces of medical equipment are used in Nigeria. God is using the staff here to shine for Him.

Do you find working in a mission hospital overseas different from working the UK?

The main difference I notice is that I can speak openly about my faith. I love sitting with patients, talking and getting to know them and their history. I am also able to pray and share God’s word with them. Patients come from many different religious backgrounds, including Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is a good opportunity to speak to them about their salvation.

Have you seen any changes in your personal and spiritual life?

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God has definitely been teaching me to rely on Him and to rest in His plans. I had a young patient who, given his diagnosis and his inability to afford the care, said, “Let God have his way with me”. These are striking words to say. He knew the outcome would not be good and yet his trust was fully in the Lord. He knew that, no matter what, he had a heavenly Father who cared for him. I was definitely challenged by this. Would I have said this? He knew his home was in Heaven and that is what we have to look forward to as Christians. I found out later that he had passed away.

His case is not an isolated one. We meet several similar cases each week. This can be somewhat disheartening at times but God gives me strength for each day, to meet each new challenge that I face. I have a God walking beside me to whom I can bring my concerns and struggles, which is wonderful.

This verse has been very precious to me while here:

“Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress.”
Isaiah 33:2

Have you been able to get involved in any other areas during your time?

There are many different opportunities to get involved both inside and outside the hospital setting. I help Katie at Kingdom Kids, which is a Bible Club for primary school children.

I have also been able to start a twice-monthly youth programme where we are studying through the book of James. We have opportunities to visit around the local area and leprosy patients. It is lovely getting involved in community life.

If someone was interested in serving in a hospital overseas what advice you give them?

Pray. That would be the best advice I could give anyone. Pray about it and don’t be scared about what God is calling you to. If God is wanting you to serve in a medical facility abroad, then He will be with you. If He has called you, He will equip you:

...with every good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Hebrews 13:21

Sarah is serving for a year in Nigeria as part of our short-term programme. If you are interested in serving for up to two years in Africa, our short-term programme could be for you. Email us at, or call 02890402850 to have a chat.