A work placement in rural India has given a Charles Sturt University (CSU) nursing student a unique opportunity to reflect on how health care in a developing nation compares to practice in Australia.
Ms Amelia Baker, from Lithgow NSW, was one of 13 CSU Bachelor of Nursing students who spent a three weeks in India in July as part of a program through CSU Global and the India Study Abroad Centre (ISAC).
“Often when you travel overseas, you are viewing the culture and local customs from the outside,” said Ms Baker. “Nursing abroad gave me the opportunity to fully immerse within the Indian culture, working closely with clinicians as well as a wide range of people, in hospitals, clinics, schools, and their homes.”
The students worked in private hospitals at Malavli, a town south east of Mumbai, and spent a week at the Maharashtra Institute of Medical Education and Research (MIMER) in Talegaon.
“We were in a variety of private hospitals in rural India and the facilities were often very dated, as were many of the nursing methods used.
“The key health care issues rural India faces are based on things like cost, sanitation, water quality, and not having enough services for their rapidly expanding population.
“Given these shortages, staff members are very good at creating what they need from what’s available.
“The Indian professionals are also very good at basic health assessment and only ordered tests that were absolutely necessary,” said Ms Baker. “In Australia we are often very wasteful with these services.”
It’s the first time students from CSU’s School of Nursing Midwifery and Indigenous Health at Wagga Wagga, Albury Wodonga and Bathurst have completed clinical placement in India as part of their studies.
CSU Global is a University initiative to provide students with the opportunity to experience a broad range of international study experiences and another trip to India is planned for nursing and paramedic students in November.
Murrumbidgee Medicare Local (MML) and Charles Sturt University (CSU), supported by local aged care providers have successfully collaborated to obtain funding to develop a framework for students being placed in a variety of rural and regional community aged care settings to expand their knowledge and understanding of healthy ageing.
“Rather than placing nursing and other allied health students solely in a nursing home setting for their aged care experience, this model allows a whole of community approach so that students receive a variety of experiences in the different aged care settings in our community” MML Chief Executive Officer Nancye Piercy said.
“Students will be placed in a range of community settings that provide services for the aged such as, home care services, home care package providers, retirement villages, local councils and community groups such as Men’s Shed and support groups – places we don’t traditionally think of as providing aged care services” Mrs Piercy continued.
“We are very excited to be working with CSU and other aged care service providers in the community to give this experience to nurses as well as other health practitioners” The initial stages of the project will involve scoping of capacity across the Medicare Local region with a trial to commence in August.
Following evaluation a framework will be developed and made available for other regions wanting to implement a similar model. It is hoped that this whole-of-community approach will become incorporated into the student placement program. Funding for this project has been made available through the NSW Higher Education Training Institute (HETI).
Ahead of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, one Charles Sturt University (CSU) nursing academic did her bit to improve the quality of aged care in Australia by changing student attitudes to aged care.
Dr Maree Bernoth from the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Indigenous Health at CSU in Wagga Wagga said, "In keeping with societal attitudes and stigmas, undergraduate nursing students tended to find the study of ageing and caring for older people basic, disinteresting and irrelevant."
To confront these attitudes and to show the students the complex and highly skilled nature of aged care, Dr Bernoth developed online resources for her students and encouraged them to engage during their time at CSU with older people.
The United Nations has designated Sunday 15 June as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day to focus global attention on the problem of physical, emotional, and financial abuse of elders.
Dr Bernoth said, "The quality of the education provided to nursing students and other aged care workers is extremely important in combating abuse of elders.
"During tutorials for the aged care subject, third year Bachelor of Nursing students are able to meet and talk with members of the Older Men New Ideas (OMNI) group, whose ages range from 73 to 93.
OMNI member Dr Ray King said, "The involvement of our members in Maree's learning initiatives benefitted both the presenters from our group and the nursing students."
"The feedback on these initiatives from nursing students, graduates and those who come across our graduates in the workplace has been positive and encouraging," Dr Bernoth said.
"I believe our students are taking their knowledge and skills into their professional arenas, translating knowledge into practice.
"Ultimately this is making a difference to the standard of care of Australia's ageing population."
The SNMIH is working towards extending these initiatives by working in collaboration with Murrumbidgee Medicare Local. The two organisations are developing opportunities for students' to experience a wide variety of ways of working with older people.
For her initiatives, the CSU academic received a 2013 Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning from the Australian Government's Office of Student Learning and Teaching.
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