Fifteen student nurses and three clinical lecturers from the School of Nursing and Midwifery left behind the comforts of home to spend a month providing basic health care to people in Cambodia.
The students and staff volunteerd in the School’s Communitiy Health Placement program, in a newly established military clinic at the foot of the Phnom Bok Mountain, located near Siem Reap in the northwest of Cambodia.
An initiative of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, the International Community Health Placement program is open to second and third year nursing and midwifery students.
Head of School Professor Catherine Turner
said the International Community Health Placement program provided students with greater insight into international health practices, and provided increased opportunities to assist in a clinical practice environment.
“Our undergraduate programs are distinctive in that we provide students with academic learning balanced with an equal component of hands on clinical experience” Prof Turner said.
“The International Community Health placement is an extension of our Clinical Schools model and offers students an invaluable opportunity to experience life and health care practices in a country and clinical setting foreign from their own” Prof Turner said.
According to School of Nursing and Midwifery clinical lecturer Peta Crompton, the benefit to students immersed in a different culture while experiencing a vast change in clinical practice is invaluable.
“Given the history of the site as a military training camp, the students are expecting to treat many returned soldiers, their wives and children as well as local villagers,” said Ms Crompton.
“We envisage the most common health issues will include chronic pain and infections associated with older wounds such as amputations and landmine injuries as well as tropical illnesses.”
In January 2010, the very first group of UQ nursing students volunteered at New Hope Community Centre and orphanage, in one of Siem Reap’s poorest areas.
“All of the students who travelled to Cambodia in 2010 were extremely humbled and grateful for the chance to contribute their new skills to help other less fortunate and some, now graduated, already have plans to return,” said Ms Crompton.
“We’re extremely proud that once again, so many students were interested in undertaking the Cambodia placement and have the opportunity to expand their horizons both culturally and professionally.”
Image: Nursing student Elissa Jackson
Image: Nursing student Sally Foord