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Nursing students Go Global in China

In July, three students from the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to China to extend their studies as part of the Go Global program. The students, Brendan Darling, Kz Agcaoili and Rachel Rich, attended a two week International Nursing Student Summer Camp at Sichuan University, which was aimed at broadening the international perspectives of nursing students.

Rachel and Kz said the experience was enriching and enlightening, and underscored the various career paths and postgraduate opportunities available to nursing students in Australia in comparison to their Chinese counterparts. Friendships with other students, cute pandas and exposure to different nursing practices were trip highlights.

Making friends in China was a highlight of the students' trip overseas.
Making friends in China was a highlight of the students' trip overseas.

Why did the program appeal to you?

The China study tour appealed to us because it was an exciting opportunity to enhance our knowledge of international healthcare systems and the role of nurses. It was also an amazing chance for us to expand our international networks and make friends from multiple countries across the world. So of course we jumped at the opportunity.

What was a typical day in the program?

Our typical day started at around 7.00 am when we would wake up and have breakfast with the other nursing students. Then we would meet with our Chinese buddies who would walk us to the West China hospital Cardiology ward. In the ward we would have tours and discussion on nursing roles and guidelines and how they differ in all of our home countries. We would then break for lunch with our Chinese students, often eating at the university restaurant. In the afternoons we went to different specialty wards, such as the mental health ward, and the women’s and children’s hospital and the traditional Chinese medicine unit. At night time, we would find somewhere for traditional Sichuan food (hot pot).

The students visited specialty wards, such as the mental health ward, and the women’s and children’s hospital and the traditional Chinese medicine unit.
The students visited specialty wards, such as the mental health ward, and the women’s and children’s hospital and the traditional Chinese medicine unit.

What did you learn?

There are endless answers to this question if you include Chinese words and culture, as well as Danish and American culture. One of the most prominent differences we learnt about was the degree types and opportunities for nurses to advance in China compared with Australia. We came back with a new appreciation for the vast array of postgraduate opportunities presented to us at Curtin and in Australia.

What surprised you about healthcare in China?

A huge aspect of healthcare in China is the role of the family. Whilst we understand that family plays a role in healthcare in Australia, nurses are the primary carers in a hospital situation. In China – a collectivist society – the family accept the role of helping with the activities of daily living, which enables the nurses to provide medication and education to the large volume of patients on each ward.

Did you have the opportunity to see much of your surrounds?

Yes, we were lucky enough to have some free time in which we could explore Chengdu and the surrounds. On our first free morning we went to the old town streets of Jinli, which were exploding with food, shops and lanterns. The second weekend, we went to Leshan to see the largest sitting Buddha in the world! We made some friends in the line waiting to go down to his feet and climbed a lot of stairs to get back up, but it was a fantastic day. Lastly, and most importantly, we went to the Giant Panda Breeding Centre. We were able to walk through a lovely park and take lots of photos of pandas climbing, eating and a lot of sleeping! They are incredibly cute though.

The students visited the Giant Panda Breeding Centre.
The students visited the Giant Panda Breeding Centre.

What’s your best memory of your time away?

So hard to pick just one! We would have to say just spending time and getting to know our Chinese nursing buddies was so invaluable. It was so rare to see such kind and genuine people, who were very accommodating and always made us feel welcome. Making friends with them was definitely the highlights.

Would you recommend a program such as this to other students?

Absolutely! A program like this is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity, not just for nursing, but also to grow personally and professionally. The lessons you learn become part of your practice and we definitely recommend this to anyone.

Leshan is home to the largest sitting Buddha in the world.
Leshan is home to the largest sitting Buddha in the world.