CQUniversity nursing students and their supervising lecturers have returned from a once-in-a-lifetime cultural and educational experience in Nepal as part of a CQU Global Outbound program.
The 18 second-year Bachelor of Nursing students and two lecturers travelled to Kathmandu and Pokhara through June and July and spent about three weeks providing health services at the local hospitals and health camps, while learning from Nepalese health professionals and in turn providing locals with insight into the Australian health care system.
The students learned a vast array of clinical knowledge while in Nepal and gave back to the developing nation with donations of food, medical/surgical supplies, and medications, which the students and staff had collected before leaving Australia.
Other funds collected were distributed as scholarships to three nursing students from the Fishtail Nursing College and to establish a New Life Centre (transient home) by Nepal Youth Foundation under Malnutrition, Prevention and Treatment Program.
Ten wheelchairs were also donated to disadvantaged people in the community.
“This was the first time a group of CQUniversity nursing students had travelled to Nepal since the COVID pandemic had paused international travel, so we were very much looking forward to it,” Associate Lecturer in Nursing Trish Channell said.
“The students gained much from the experience, both educationally and culturally, and it provided a fantastic opportunity for them to accrue 80 clinical placement hours towards their course requirements.”
For Nepal-born CQUniversity nursing lecturer Dr Deepa Rijal, it was a time to reconnect with her home country and share her insight of the nation with the nursing students, to compare the differences in health system, standards of practice and culture between the two nations.
“It was great to be back in Nepal and be able to share this country with my students,” she said.
“As a developing country, Nepal was affected by the pandemic due to the lack of health awareness amongst the people and limited health resources in the communities.
“The country’s tourism was also greatly affected during this time, so it was amazing to be able to return with our students for this trip.”
The students were supported with New Colombo Plan funding, CQU mobility scholarships and via their own fundraising efforts.
Nursing student Denise Haack said she gained a wealth of knowledge from the excellent doctors, nurses and other health-related workers in Nepal.
“They gave us so much of their precious time, explaining everything they were doing and why they were doing it, especially at the health checks," she said.
“It was amazing, and I am so grateful to them all and CQU for making it happen.”
Ms Haack said the trip opened her eyes to the poverty experienced by many of the Nepalese.
“Lack of money was a contributing factor to people not seeking medical treatment in Nepal,” she explained.
“If you don't have it [money] in Nepal, then you don’t get treatment, and when you do have some, you go into the hospital for a very short time and buy your own medical supplies and needles and bring it into the ward.
“I have travelled quite a lot around the world, and l studied in Nepal before l went, so it wasn't a shock to me, but the poverty really stood out...it has also made me incredibly grateful for what l have in this privileged country.”
A small group of CQUniversity social work students will follow the nursing students’ lead later in the year and will visit Nepal with fresh eyes from a social work perspective.
Nepal Nursing Experience 2023
Ready for a one-in-a-lifetime educational experience
Eighteen second-year students took part in the trip
The students and lecturers visited Kathmandu and Pokhara
The students provided health checks in the communities and worked in hospitals
The communities received FREE health care and students gained loads of experience
You never know where health issues may arise
Students provided children with valuable health advice
Communities were grateful for the free health checks
A learning experience for all involved
Also a time to give back to the needy
Until next time