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Gaining strength from difference

College of Nursing & Midwifery
Hong Kong Students Nursing

Three CDU Nursing students joined 70 students from around the world in a four-week Inbound Student Exchange Program in Hong Kong recently.

Hosted by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HKPU) School of Nursing, the program encouraged discussion about cultural sensitivity, barriers to health, health literacy and world views. Students, Joanne Barrett, Louise McAvennie and Christopher Mijota, were encouraged to think and reflect on their perception of health and how that affects their daily lives.

“Nurses are on the front line of health care and are relied upon to begin conversations about health,” Mr Mijota said.  “We were encouraged to see ourselves as patients as well as nurses to constantly evaluate and adapt our understanding of culturally safe health care”

Group exercises explored the culture of health in each country and looked at how individuals receive and adapt to care. Assisted by students from HKPU, teams required translation applications to understand each other and teased out some complex themes.

Discussion ranged from the role nurses play at the frontline and the impact of burnout, the role of family and impact of culture in health. For example, there is a big emphasis on yin and yang and complementary medicine in Hong Kong.

“The Chinese do mind and body exercises as a way of life, whereas in Australia we might sleep more, exercise more or take a pill,” Mr Mijota said.

“Over there they are a bit more physical about it and take it upon themselves to keep themselves healthy.”

Another difference was in aged care. The students visited a ‘retirement village’ made up of several high rise buildings, with shops, entertainment, exercise, and health services all in one place to make it easier for the elderly.

“In Hong Kong, everything is in one place and services are centralised,” Mr Mijota said.

“In Australia, everything is divided up by location and different organisations, transport is difficult and services are not communicating effectively with each other. There are a lot of gaps in inpatient care.”

For Mr Mijota, the most memorable session was the Human Library, which is an international learning platform where personal dialogues challenge stigma and stereotypes. One mental health patient spoke about the social injustices of the past and the change towards more patient-focused care.

“The focus was on how far health has come in the last 20 years and how quickly it has changed,” Mr Mijota said.

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