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Nursing takes Holmesglen students to Canada

Photo: Nursing takes Holmesglen students to Canada
Apart from being asked if she had a pet kangaroo, Holmesglen nursing student Madison Banfield found her recent exchange to a Canadian college exciting and educational.

Madison, 27, of Patterson Lakes, and Melissa Bell, 21, of Somerville, spent three weeks at Grande Prairie Regional College (GPRC), a post-secondary education institute in north-western Alberta.

Both are in their second year of a Holmesglen Bachelor of Nursing degree. They stayed with host families, attended classes, observed hospital shifts and toured health facilities.

These included the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS) helicopter service, a prison, a safe injecting mobile site and a homeless shelter with a make-shift ‘tent city’.

The student nurses spent a day in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and a day in labour and delivery. Melissa also experienced a 12-hour shift in emergency and Madison a 12-hour shift on a surgical ward.
Both found the locals friendly and the culture and weather like Melbourne’s. But their kangaroo knowledge was lacking. “Every second person asked if we have pet kangaroos,” Madison she says with a laugh.

Other highlights included trips to picturesque Banff National Park, Muskoseepi Park and Tumbler Ridge, and horse riding around and canoeing on the stunning Lake Louise.

They also ate bannock, a fried dough bread, poutine (fries with cheese curds and gravy) and maple flavoured food including bacon, candy, and coffee.

The trip is part of a partnership with GPRC that began in 2016 and has faculty and student exchanges.

In 2017, GPRC staff came to Australia, in 2018 Holmesglen staff visited Canada and in 2019 Holmesglen students visited Canada. GPRC students are expected to visit Holmesglen in 2020.

Madison hopes to work in neonatal nursing, as she finds helping unwell babies rewarding. “Being given the opportunity to have a day in the NICU in Canada really cemented this for me,” she says.

“I love that nursing is a career that gives you the opportunity to work in so many different areas and places. I love travelling and would love to travel with my nursing degree.

“The trip was very rewarding. It was a great example of how nursing can take you anywhere in the world.”

Melissa has always wanted to be a nurse and hopes to work in emergency medicine.

She was surprised by how much responsibility the Canadian students took and enjoyed learning about emergency medicine, mindfulness, wound management and arterial blood gas tests.

The people and places were amazing. “The beautiful views of the mountains and many waterfalls we visited were magnificent,” Melissa says. “I have never seen such a beautiful view in my life.

“My thoughts of travelling as a nurse and working abroad have grown and I look forward to travelling further in the future.”

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