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Student nurses benefit from Vietnam work experience

A group of nursing students from Victoria University has drawn a lot of positives from a challenging two weeks working in some of the most disadvantaged hospitals and orphanages in Vietnam.

The 10 students volunteered at Hanoi’s National Paediatric Hospital, the Hoa Bihn Peace Village, (an orphanage for disabled victims of Agent Orange) and at Blue Dragon, an organisation that helps rescue trafficked children.

Co-ordinator and tour leader Dr Susanne Kristy said the group from the university’s St Albans Campus were challenged physically, academically and emotionally in a supported environment during their tour. “For many, this is a life-changing event,” Kristy said.

At the National Paediatric Hospital they worked in four areas: neonatal intensive care, neonatal surgery, oncology, and a day program for children with autism. “It was very hot in the hospital, and sweat just ran down our backs,” said student Ashleigh Davis. “It’s really sad because the parents are often taking their sick babies home to die.”

Organisers said the experience would help build up the nurses’ experience and assist them to work in areas of Melbourne and Victoria where there are patients from around the world, from different religious and cultural backgrounds. “On their return, if the students go on to work as nurses in western Melbourne, they will benefit from their Vietnam experience,” Kristy said.

Student Kellie McWilliam said seeing a health system in a developing country made her appreciate how lucky she was to live in Australia. “I realise we take so much for granted in Australia. I will definitely be looking to use my skills to volunteer overseas again.”

The group’s study tour is part of a growing number of overseas experiences Victoria University offers its vocational education students.

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