Students inspired by nursing in Himalayas

Deakin news
02 March 2017

Two Warrnambool nursing students have been inspired by a study tour to the Himalayas which has shown how health systems can cope with limited resources.

Second year Bachelor of Nursing students at the Deakin University Warrnambool Campus, students Sarah McCall and Audrey Lenehan, have recently returned from the tour with renewed enthusiasm for their study.

They joined 12 other Deakin nursing students on the tour, which included 12 days in Bhutan in the Himalayas.

Both mature-aged students aged in their 40s, Ms Lenehan and Ms McCall say their return to study has been a life-changing experience and the study tour was a highlight of their course.

The School of Nursing and Midwifery tour helped students to enhance their understanding of cross-cultural health and nursing care.

Ms McCall described the tour as very humbling. “It is a wonderful country, where we were welcomed warmly. I would love to return there one day on a volunteer basis, when I have some experience under my belt,” she said.

Ms McCall said she learned from not only the health system but from the culture and people.

“They are such happy people and base their country’s wealth on happiness. For an under-developed country, they are so switched on. They want to look after and preserve their environment and culture.”

Ms McCall said the health system was limited but efficient.

“They make do with what they’ve got and do an excellent job. There could be 16 patients to one nurse but they cope,” she said.

After working in aged care and disability fields, Ms Lenehan decided to go back to university to fulfil her ambition of becoming a nurse.

She said the study tour was a fantastic experience.

“We had a health promotion day in the community which was amazing and a lot of hands-on experience,” Ms Lenehan said.

“We got an opportunity to work in the hospitals and with the limited resources they have, they do an amazing job. Their nursing skills are fantastic but they do it with facilities we had 20-30 years ago.”

Ms Lenehan said the tour would help her plans to nurse in remote communities in northern Australia. “It showed me different ways to go about practising.”

Local university students served as interpreters for the visiting students.

Another highlight of the tour for Ms Lenehan and Ms McCall was a hike to the sacred Buddhist temples of Tiger’s Nest.

The study tour included classroom on-site sessions with the host institution, the Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences, Thimphu, Bhutan, and visits to the National Referral Hospital, Traditional Medicine Hospital and Health Care Units.

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