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Support for ECU Student Nurses & Midwives Global Classroom


Earlier this year, as part of our Vocational Service, RC Karrinyup supported a team of student nurses by funding medical supplies and equipment to take for use during their training placement in Tanzania. Club Secretary Carolyn Prunster introduced Tania Beament, Director of the International School of Nursing & Midwifery at Edith Cowan University, and Rosebeth, a final year Nursing/Midwifery student and participant in the program.

Tania described the benefits of enriching the training of 'ECU Student Nurses and Midwives in a Global Classroom'. She explained that the program is offered by ECU to 2500 students with 580 graduates per year. It is rated in the 'Top 10' in Australia. For the international part of the course, students travel overseas to experience nursing and midwifery with limited resources and to develop an understanding of cultural and language barriers. This part of the course takes the students outside of their comfort zone, as they live in the community, and helps them develop resilience and adaptability – characteristics that cannot be taught in a clinic. The travel, to thirteen countries mostly in Africa and Asia, also encourages diversity and sustainability.

The scope of the program includes health promotions, conducting community clinics and home visits, in places where people are unable to attend the clinic. It extends to include aged care, HIV prevention, health outreach, nutrition, support for local health personnel and programs to encourage children to attend school.

These activities have a huge impact on the local communities. Alumni of the program have gone on to continue the work, some working with the UN.  

Now in her final year of a double degree in nursing and midwifery, local mother of two Rosebeth described her two week visit to Tanzania as an eye-opening experience.  She was confronted with a maternity hospital delivering 80 to 100 babies per day in appalling conditions, where the hospital provided virtually nothing. The families had to provide everything including meals, medication, linen and even water for the mothers to drink. Some are too poor to do so. There was no tagging of mothers and babies. The hospital lacked even basic sterilisation facilities. These circumstances contribute to a large number of maternal deaths in childbirth. 

In the face of all these challenges without resources, it is not surprising that the local midwives develop “compassion fatigue”. They were most grateful for the support provided by the ECU team. Rosebeth stated that her visit to Tanzania made her very much appreciate the facilities available in Australian hospitals. 

Rosebeth said the RC Karrinyup donation enabled the purchase of gloves, neonatal resus equipment: suction tubes, oxygen masks, bag and masks for resus, antibacterial gel, scissors, swabs and baby clothes all of which were put to good and much needed use. Other students took stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs and nurses watches.  She related that she and her fellow students found the experience not only an eye opener but a massive learning experience with very valuable life lessons.

She expressed her sincere gratitude to the Rotary club for its support in helping the communities she had visited. 

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