Canterbury Christ Church University Hospital
In April 2016, a group of fifteen students from the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, Canterbury Christ Church University, travelled to Kerala in India for a 12-day educational visit.
The students, 7 Adult Nursing, 6 Midwifery and 2 Social Work students, were accompanied by 5 facilitators and visited the Jubilee Medical Mission Hospital & Research Institute in Thrissur, Kerala, India. This unique opportunity enabled them to learn about the provision of health and social care in another country and the important role that culture, tradition, family and religion played in this care. The students were allocated a third year Keralan adult nursing student to act as their buddy, who accompanied them to the various clinical areas, both hospital and community and who were invaluable in explaining health care provision in Kerala. This also enabled both groups of students to exchange knowledge about health care provision in the two countries and to learn that some practices in Kerala might differ from those in the UK.
The UK students, in their professions, undertook a formal presentation to their Keralan peers at a special programme for the Keralan Student Nurses Association with the topic: Trends and Patterns of Nurse Education in the UK. They also attended an international conference on Essentials in Nursing Education and whilst on community visits, attended two public health lectures by doctors in this field.
Both the UK and Keralan students participated in the 2nd stage of an international research collaboration project on burns in rural Thrissur by developing a culturally sensitive educational tool on the causes and first aid management of burns. These coloured and laminated posters, written in Malayalam, will be used by teachers in the local primary schools in Thrissur to educate children about burns with the aim that this new knowledge would be imparted to their parents and family members, in an attempt to reduce the high incidents of burns in this district of India.
The UK students developed close collaborative relationships, both professionally and personally, with the other professionals on the visit enabling them to consolidate their learning from the collaborative practice modules undertaken in the classroom at Canterbury Christ Chuch. Through their clinical visits, they also learned about other professionals who they might not normally meet in their work in the UK, such as plastic surgeons and the Smile Train team.
Students enhanced their learning with regards to Indian culture and traditions when they undertook various social activities. Many local people were curious, this not being a tourist area, but nevertheless friendly and polite and were keen to practice their English with the group. The local fish market is a hive of noise, colour and activity even at 6am! Students visited the Bible Tower, Keralan backwaters, an Ayurveda Centre, an elephant sanctuary and the Athirappilly Waterfalls. They also participated in a cultural evening where they undertook song and dance appropriate to their own culture. This was reciprocated by their Keralan buddies.
Students were very positive in their evaluations and felt that this unique experience should continue to develop over the years. They plan to advise other students of their experiences in the collaborative practice modules.
Reflecting on their time in Kerala, one of the Adult Nursing students said:
“Nothing could have prepared me for the physical, emotional and spiritual journey that I was lucky enough to experience in India.
This study visit has contributed not just to my nursing education, but I am also a better, more tolerant and more self-aware person because of it.
I hope that health and social care students will continue to be offered such a unique, emotionally humbling, but ultimately, uplifting and enlightening experience in the future”