Thursday, 18 February 2016

A Day in the Life of A Health Placement in Nepal

WRITTEN BY: Sarah Robertshaw

Over the past two weeks we were all assigned our placements. I am placed at Stupa Community Hospital.

At first glimpse, the hospital is definitely not as you would expect it to be. Everything in Nepal has a slight coating of dust and our placement is no different. As a student nurse, the ward was very different to Australia’s. There are normally only two nurses who care for the general ward, the isolation ward, the single bedrooms and the chemotherapy ward.

We have all been moved around to the different wards of the hospital including emergency, OPD, general and physio. For me the emergency ward is the most rewarding, you get to experience all the cuts, stitches, ECGs, and the other day we saw a cyst removal that probably should have happened in an operating theatre! The staff of the hospital are all very welcoming for us volunteers,  and the doctors are always willing to teach us things about cases that are rare in Australia. We have seen cases of tuberculosis and a case of acute myeloid leukaemia which was really interesting to learn about. The matron also let me observe my first surgery and child birth which was an amazing experience, it was a caesarian.

Di is a recently graduated Occupational Therapist placed at the Special Education and Rehabilitation Centre (SERC) for Disabled Children. She is in the Occupational Therapy room for the most part of each day. Di has also had the opportunity to teach English in the classroom which was very interesting and exciting at the same time to do something different. She has also picked up a little bit of Nepali along the way. Di has been working with children ranging from toddlers to teenagers working on things such as their social skills, cognitive abilities, fine motor skills, sensory integration therapy and building attention to tasks. 

This is done generally by integrating therapy into play, as play is important to children development. She says the most rewarding experience was watching one of the local artists come into SERC and work with the children doing art therapy. One of the children is unable to use his hands or feet so he painted some really lovely paintings with his mouth (see picture). Di is amazed in regards to the comparisons to Australia and Nepal. Where Occupational Therapy is available to just about anyone who needs it. In Australia we have the luxury of sourcing allied health professionals at the request of a GP but in Nepal they have limited Allied Health input and rely heavily on volunteers from overseas. Knowing this, it is amazing what SERC has been able to do in such a short amount of time and on limited resources building this school to what it is today dealing with over one hundred students.

We are all so keen for the weeks to come and to see what the week of health education at the local schools is like.

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