GOING GLOBAL: La Trobe University Mildura nursing students Ashlyn Boromeo, Georgia Mayne and Ashley Bath have recently undertaken course placements overseas. Photo: PAUL MENSCH

By MITCH RODD

EXPERIENCING life in a profession in another country can help broaden one’s horizons, both in a professional and personal capacity.

Study opportunities for local students overseas are a regular occurrence, particularly for those enrolled in nursing and teaching degrees.

Most recently from La Trobe University’s Mildura Campus, second-year nursing students Ashley Bath and Georgia Mayne spent three weeks on placement in Singapore, while third-year student Ashlyn Boromeo spent a month in Sweden completing a short course on entrepreneurship and implementation for improved health care.

Mildura’s Head of Campus, Dr Deb Neal, said there were multiple benefits to students completing aspects of their course internationally.

“Coming back from that experience you would have a much broader perspective of not only your profession, but also what you’re capable of doing, because it’s not just the studying, it’s going over there, meeting new people, that whole cultural exchange, studying somewhere totally different,” she said.

“And then the more people do that and the more they talk about it, the more likely we are to get other students doing it.

“You tend to have the more adventurous students doing it to start off with.

“It’s a commitment of the universities not only to have our universities connect with their communities, but to provide our students with an opportunity to have a worldwide experience.

“Particularly students on regional campuses (can benefit) where they’ve got the opportunity to stay at home, to stay with mum and dad, to earn money and then have the opportunity for their university to support them through a regional reward, which is a minimum of $1000. Some of them can get up to $5000 to actually support them in an overseas opportunity.”

Dr Neal said nursing and education students have been the most prominent in taking up overseas opportunities from Mildura.

“It probably tends to be those two professions here, probably because we’re quite well established in both those schools of study, making it more prominent to students that you can do this as part of your degree,” she said.

“They seem to be particularly good at taking it up, and I think that’s probably because they get the opportunity to do a clinical placement somewhere else and that’s counted to their degree.

“If they decide to do a semester, then that whole semester goes towards their degree so it’s not lost time.

“They come back quite different too. They come back more confident, they definitely come back with a broader experience.”

That has certainly been the case for the most recent students to return from overseas experiences.

Georgia and Ashley chose to spend time in Singapore as a selected elective available to them.

“It was great seeing a different healthcare system and how it operates,” Georgia said. “It was a fantastic experience, and it’s a really good opportunity if anyone else gets the chance to do it.”

“The language was a bit of a barrier,” Ashley added. “Most of the staff (we worked with) did speak English, but because it’s a very diverse culture, there were a lot of other languages spoken that we didn’t understand.”

The pair spent time attending classes at a university aligned with La Trobe, as well as learning their craft in a community hospital and hospice.

“The nursing labs would probably be good enough to be full-time hospital rooms,” Georgia said. “Their health care system works on a class basis. We worked in C Class at a community hospital. We were kind of shocked because there wasn’t any air-conditioning and it was really humid.

“The hospice was almost like a day care centre so the elderly patients could continue to be looked after while the family could work or just get a break.”

“It was a real eye-opener,” Ashley said. “I was fascinated to see how they treated their elderly. There was so much respect and care involved to make them as comfortable as possible.”

Ashlyn’s short course led her to meet and discuss health care system ideas with other students from all over the world.

“I stayed on campus in Linköping with about 60 other students who came from all around the world. I met other students from England, the USA, France, Italy and many others. I was the only one from Australia although I didn’t realise that until I got there. Understanding some of the other languages was a bit tricky but I enjoyed it,” she said.

“The course was ‘Entrepreneurship and implementation for improved health care’. It was all about creating discussions about how to create and implement ideas and programs into the health care systems in our countries.

“I got to understand that we’re a lot better off than some other places.

“A girl from Brazil, based in Rio de Janiero, was there and we go to hear about how poor the access to health care was.

“Even in Sweden things are so much different. There are things they do which I think are better than Australia, and others that I think Australia does better.

“Sweden is the country for entrepreneurship, and they are advanced in the technology side of things.”