Nursing students take ECU expertise to Southeast Asia

TWENTY seven nursing students from Edith Cowan University undertook a community placement with a difference after travelling to South East Asia to complete their studies.

The three groups of final year students visited Thailand, Laos and the Philippines for two weeks but the placements were far from a holiday. Nursing student Ruth Ross visited Laos as part of the program and assisted local health workers setting up clinics in nine remote villages.

“Each day we would drive to a different village and give a demonstration of various health promotion topics we had determined would be the most beneficial,” Ruth said.

“Then we set up clinics to assess the health needs of the people of the village.”

Ruth said the experience had been invaluable and had improved her ability to perform health assessments more than any practicum in Perth hospitals. “We saw over a hundred patients a day with the added challenge of having to work through interpreters,” she said.

As part of their study, all Australian nursing students are required to undertake a community placement.

ECU's international placement immerses the students in a culturally-diverse environment and gives them valuable experience of the health issues facing people in South East Asia.

ECU’s School of Nursing and Midwifery International Nursing Coordinator Tania Beament said the school offers a range of international and cultural exchange programs for undergraduate nursing students.

“This enables students to immerse themselves in an alternative culture and health care system and to demonstrate clinical competence as part of their undergraduate program assessment,” Ms Beament said.

“The students gain an opportunity to combine both traditional and western medicine and health practices linked with their nursing theory and practice.”

ECU International’s Senior Student Mobility Officer Natalie Ilott said the nursing community placement programs are a great opportunity for students to put their skills into practice and to experience the health issues being faced within culturally diverse health care systems compared to Australia.

“The overseas nursing community placements also give students the opportunity to travel while gaining credit towards their degree, to widen their horizons intellectually, culturally and socially and to challenge themselves both personally and academically,” Miss Ilott said.

“It will also look great on their résumé, which may give them a competitive edge when they return back home to seek employment.”

The program furthers the University’s aim of building engagement with some of Australia’s closest neighbours and increasing the number of ECU students gaining international experience as part of their degree.

The visit also highlights opportunities for students from South East Asia to study in Australia through partner organisations.

The nursing community placement programs to Thailand and Laos are funded by the Australian Government Department of Industry, Innovation, Research, Science and Tertiary Education (DIIRSTE) through the Study Overseas Short-term Mobility Program.

Source: Australia Edith Cowan University

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