New horizons for UNE nursing students with overseas placements

OVERSEAS STUDENTS: Kate McNeill (kneeling front left) and fellow students on location in Thailand.
OVERSEAS STUDENTS: Kate McNeill (kneeling front left) and fellow students on location in Thailand.

Nursing students at the University of New England now have the opportunity to complete their clinical placements overseas, enabling them to gain experience and insight into nursing practices in other countries.

The initiative adds significant value to UNE’s nursing degrees, and was made possible through funding received under the New Colombo Plan Mobility program.

Final year nursing student Kate McNeill was one of 12 students selected to travel to Surin, Thailand, accompanied by two supervisors earlier this year.

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“I was excited to hear about the opportunity as it ticked all the boxes for the goals I had set myself to evolve both personally and as a future Registered Nurse,” Kate said.

“It was a chance to experience a different culture, and gain perspective and an understanding of nursing in a different country. It was an opportunity I could not pass up.”

While Kate had a great time, making new friends and memories, the experience also exposed her to different nursing practices, and broadened her professional knowledge.

“Some of the procedures I observed were not in line with current Australia practices. However, I gained an understanding on the reasoning behind the differences and reiteration on the importance of what I am currently be taught at UNE. Furthermore, I also have a greater appreciation for the resources we are lucky enough to have in Australia.”

Kate also inadvertently learned how someone from a non-English speaking country may feel when in need of medical assistance in Australia.

“Being in Thailand, and in an area where very little English was known or spoken, and in need of some medical assistance, emphasised the importance of culturally competent practice as a nursing standard,” Kate said. “I now feel I can apply cultural appropriate care and considerations with greater accuracy in my nursing practice.”

Professor in Nursing at the School of Health David Stanley said that the overseas placements are “an excellent opportunity for nursing students to be supported by Australian Federal Government Funding and be able to travel, aided financially, so that they can gain a wider range of insights into global nursing practices.

“The School has secured further funding to carry the program into 2019 and beyond. UNE Nursing students will benefit from international opportunities, gain wider cultural exposure and more involved insights into Primary Health Care and nursing practice or health issues in other countries.”

Another trip is scheduled to the Philippines later in the year, followed by Nepal, Thailand, and the Philippines, again in 2019.

“I would absolutely recommend it to other nursing students,” Kate said. “It is a life changing experience.”