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Students head to remote Laos

An Australian nursing student will provide care for people in developing countries by heading over to remote communities in Laos.

Second-year Griffith University bachelor of nursing student Elizabeth Eastwell will head to Laos in January next year to provide primary healthcare services to locals and will be the first Westerner some in her care have ever been in contact with.

More than 50 other students are set to join Eastwell on the Antipodeans Abroad volunteer program. The group will travel north of Luang Prabang to become part of a temporary team that provides care and promotes health for the remote communities.

“We have been told that respiratory problems, tuberculosis and possibly burns will be high on the agenda of medical issues within the places we will visit,” Eastwell said. “I have a fantastic opportunity ahead of me. It will be tough setting up makeshift clinics but I am looking forward to making a difference, particularly with the children. I am sure it will be both a rewarding and humbling experience.”

Eastwell is a mature-age student with three children and recently decided to change careers from dental assistant to nurse.

“I was a dental assistant practically from the time I left school and although I enjoyed it, it was never my true calling,” she said. “One day I realised that I just had to see if I could get into nursing as that was where my true passion has always been.”

Eastwell’s previous experience will also come in handy in Laos. The team secured a range of dental products and educational models from Eastwell’s previous employer, Periocare, that will help in providing oral and health education programs in the communities.

She said she was initially scared to apply for a nursing course. “I thought I wouldn’t have the intelligence to do it, plus I was worried about juggling it all with looking after the kids, but once I got onto the program I knew I had definitely made the right decision,” she said.

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