11 December 2017
Seven students have returned from USC’s first Paramedic Science clinical placements in Nepal with experience in cases such as a fatal bus rollover, trekkers with altitude sickness, spinal cord injury rehabilitation and leprosy care.
Steve Hannay, 40, of Buderim, said it was eye-opening to conduct clinical examinations and assist staff in a health system in a developing country with a different language.
“We became more culturally aware, especially seeing the generosity of people who had so little compared to what we have in Australia,” said Steve, who has already been offered a graduate paramedic position with the Queensland Ambulance Service, starting January.
Jake Kriedemann, 23, of Point Arkwright, said the trip was life-changing.
“I’m currently planning a trip back to Nepal in 2018 to participate in a mountain medic course,” Jake said.
“I’ve found a new appreciation for the amazing health care service we have in Australia.”
USC Sunshine Coast Lecturer and paramedic Robbie King, who supervised the group in Kathmandu, Pokhara and the remote village of Sikhar Ambote for two weeks, said the placements enabled the students to improve their knowledge, cultural understanding and communication skills.
“The role of the modern paramedic is diverse, extending well beyond dealing with trauma and emergencies to providing a broader health care response in the community,” he said.
“These students explored the continuum of care in Nepal’s contrasting private and public health services. They joined ambulance shifts, shadowed doctors in clinics and delivered first aid education.
“The culmination of the trip was a three-day health clinic run by the students in association with local agencies to perform free health assessments, wound care and advice to 220 villagers.
“It was rewarding to observe our students using skills developed through their USC degrees, such as critical thinking, communication, assessment, leadership and decision-making. Their involvement boosted their local and international employability.”
The other students were: Sarah Chambers of Bli Bli, Rose Archer-Lawton of NSW, Erin Sharpley of Brisbane’s Capalaba, David Wells of Ipswich and Matthew Rooney of Point Arkwright.
2017 is the first year that USC’s Paramedic Science degree included overseas placements – to Vanuatu, the United States and Nepal – to complement the opportunities available with Queensland Ambulance Service.
Associate Professor Bill Lord, who leads USC’s Paramedic Science discipline, said the short-term study tours gave students insight into health systems and community-based health care in other countries, particularly the need for resourcefulness, flexibility and volunteering.
The trips to Vanuatu and Nepal received funding support from the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan mobility grants.
“Twenty-three students enjoyed the trips this year and we hope to send that many again in 2018,” Dr Lord said.
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— Julie Schomberg