Valuable Experience for Nursing Students in Nepal

Semester five for nursing students means a placement in a healthcare setting. The chance to choose such a setting in another country is one that many students opt for. For the first time, two Dalarna University students chose to complete their placements in Nepal.

Johanna Holmén and Aisha Mohamed Said were given the opportunity to complete four of their placement weeks at Kathmandu Medical College in Nepal - an experience that will serve them well as they pursue their careers within healthcare profession.

"My placement was in an emergency ward," explains Johanna. "It was really different from an emergency ward here in Sweden."

One of the differences she describes is how patients themselves have to buy all the medical products they require.

"If the condition of the patient is not overly acute, then they had to wait until their relatives bought painkillers and needles in the closest shop selling such items. Here in Sweden, we begin treating the patient as soon as we can - there, you wait until the doctor's analysis of the patient and until relatives have delivered the necessary supplies. It was unpleasant to just stand watching a patient suffering until family had brought in painkillers."

"Nepal for me is a country of mystery with a fascinating culture," says Aisha Mohamed Said. "To be part of their healthcare system for a short period was also fascinating. I was placed in two wards - medicine and maternity - and then one day with Johanna in emergency. I got the chance to work with other nursing students, which is a big difference from in Sweden. Here, you are with a qualified nurse the whole time."

Something else that Aisha became aware of during her time in Nepal was the language barrier, which she takes up in the university essay she has to submit for evaluation.

"Few patients in Nepal spoke English. I had to rely on my colleagues to translate correctly between us. I can understand how the patients feel when they can't make themselves understood, also as a result of my own background. My parents are from Somalia, so for them it was a challenge to be understood when they had to get healthcare in Sweden. My siblings and I had to act as interpreters. This is a lesson that I will have great use of in my profession."

Carin Tärestam is one of the teachers at Dalarna University who is in charge of student placements in other countries.

"Each semester, we have four places for students at a hospital in Uganda and two places in Nepal. Being a nurse means being a problem-solver - listening to patients, understanding their life situation and their wishes. When you choose to go to a country like Uganda, it means not being afraid. You must see the possibilities in new situations and be creative. Sweden is a multi-cultural country: to put yourself in a situation where you are not understood or where you do not understand gives you both good experience and better understanding."

Both Johanna and Aisha, who graduate this summer, have found employment - Johanna at Sahlgrenska Hospital in Gothenburg and Aisha at the hospital in Danderyd.

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