In December 2022, 26 Health Science course students from Torrens University Australia, led by Senior Learning Facilitator Anne Digby, will visit Nepal for a unique work-integrated learning experience. This exciting project is made possible by the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan Mobility Program grant and Anne Digby’s commitment to working for good.
Over 14 days, the group will visit a range of health facilities, including hospitals, a world-renown rehab facility and the only midwife-led birth centre in Nepal. As well, they will observe and experience various traditional and Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) therapies, including naturopathy, homeopathy and acupuncture.
The program is aligned with a core subject in Torrens University’s Health Science degrees, Entrepreneurship, Professionalism and Business Skills in Health.
Health program coordinator Anne Digby’s experience
Anne, a naturopath and midwife, first visited Nepal when she was 22 years old. This was the start of what she describes as her yearning to help the women there. Anne’s ambition grew stronger as she completed her degree in Midwifery and then a Master of Public Health. ‘I focused all of my learning and studies around midwifery in Nepal,’ she explains. Over the years, Anne has made connections with a range of people in the Health sector in that country.
‘I've collected this amazing network of people in Nepal, and I always wanted to take university students there and really be able to engage them in what is happening in healthcare and educate them in this way.’
In her role as Health Sciences Senior Learning Facilitator at Torrens University, Anne applied for the New Colombo Plan Mobility Program, offered by the Australian Government, and received a grant that will help to cover the costs for our students to visit Nepal.
Work-Integrated Learning project
The project sits in the core subject Entrepreneurship, Professionalism and Business Skills in Health. ‘This subject teaches our Health Studies students about going into business,’ Anne explains. ‘In Nepal, we'll go through the same processes that you do in setting up a business, but for these students, the focus for their assessments will be on setting up a social enterprise.
‘They will learn how to do a needs analysis so they can address the health needs from the stakeholders’ perspective. Through this, they will gain skills that they can use to start up their own businesses as Health therapists.
‘I think a lot of people who set up social enterprises, and I was definitely one of them, just start doing things without actually doing a needs analysis. Then they find out that the people they want to help don't really need the goods or the services they are offering, but need other assistance instead. It's incredibly important when starting a social enterprise that you engage with the people you're trying to help and ask them what their needs actually are. I have learnt this from my own experiences and I will teach the students to do it too.
‘I think they’ll come home with lots of great business skills and a whole range of amazing ideas for social enterprises.’
Our New Colombo Mobility Program students visiting Nepal
Rosa Seresin-Staig - Naturopathy student
She says, ‘I have a passion for educating, and passing on knowledge about how people can take care of themselves really fulfills me. I thrive in community-based learning, whether it's at uni, whether it's in the workplace, and especially when travelling and learning from other cultures.
‘As a budding naturopath, I'm very excited to be able to visit the vast array of healthcare facilities both western and alternative in Nepal. I am particularly interested in visiting the APS Birth and Reproductive Health Center and hrdcnepalHRDC Rehabilitation Hospital, the children's rehabilitation hospital, as I want to further my studies to become a birth doula when I finish my degree. ‘Through this experience, I want to pass on the knowledge that I gain to my future patients. I want to empower and inspire them to take care of themselves, and give them the support and tools they need so they can help themselves on their own healing journey.’
Holly Cumner - Bachelor of Health Science (Chinese Medicine) student
Holly Cumner is studying a Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy) at the Flinders Street campus and manages a natural skincare store. ‘My interests have been in healthcare for quite a long time,’ Holly explains. ‘Initially I enrolled in Naturopathy and I studied that for about 18 months before I realised that my true passion was Chinese medicine. I feel so confident now that I'm studying in the right field; I’m on the right path.
‘I really think that the opportunity to better understand diverse cultures through a trip such as this can have a deeply meaningful impact on the way you interact with clients and colleagues. This experience will be unique and not something that can be taught in a lecture theatre. It's the seeing and it's the feeling that I think will have a lifelong impact on those of us in the group, and it will give us a valuable understanding of the varied ways that people can work in and provide and receive healthcare.’
Amy Dietrich - Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy) student
As well as being in her 4th year of the Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy), www.linkedin.comAmy Dietrich is close to completing her Master of Business Administration, also through Torrens University.
‘I have been a long-time admirer of the global NGO Naturopaths Without Borders,’ Amy says, ‘and more recently the Community Herbal Care initiative in the Northern Rivers and the Inclusive Health & Wellness Hub here in Brisbane. I find these alternate models of community-minded healthcare inspiring and I appreciate the opportunity to broaden my experience with social enterprises in Nepal. I understand health from a low socio-economic status and a remote-area perspective, as I have lived experience with both, so I have a passion for ensuring vulnerable populations, such as children, those of Aboriginal decent and those living in regional Australia, have access to integrative and holistic health care.’
The students’ planned mobility experience in Nepal
Anne explains, ‘We will go to a couple of different hospitals, including Dhulikhel Hosptial. It is world-class, which might seem surprising in such a poor country, and it is connected to the Medical School at Kathmandu University. We’ll also go to this amazing place, HRDC. It's a rehabilitation hospital for children, funded by donors. There are a lot of people with disabilities in Nepal due to various reasons and the children in this facility are often confined to bed for weeks at a time. Many live in poor rural areas and they often don't have family members with them at the centre because they've come from so far away. But thanks to the medical staff, they have amazing outcomes. I chose this hospital for the group to visit because it suits Torrens University’scommitment toBe Good in action.
‘The other places we’ll go to include an Ayurvedic center, a homeopathy school and a Tibetan medicine facility. We're giving the group a range of experiences because the students are studying to be therapists and so they need to see more than just the medical model.’
Gifts for the children in HRDC Rehabilitation Hospital
Anne and the students have raised money to donate to some of the Nepalese health facilities they will visit. As well, they hope to fill their bags with Beanie Kids, Rubik’s Cubes and Harry Potter books to give to each of the children in the HRDC Rehabilitation Hospital, to help keep them amused.
So if you have a collection of Beanie Kids in your cupboard, Rubik’s Cubes in your bottom drawer, or copies of Harry Potter on your bookshelf, you may want to bring them to your Torrens campus by 1 December, and the group will give them to the children they meet in hospital in Nepal.
'As part of the delegation led by Anne, I will also have the honour to assist her in facilitating the inaugural version of this program on the ground in Nepal for our students.
‘We wish Anne and all of the TUA delegation safe travels, and we will look forward to hearing about the students’ experiences when they return.'