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27.03.2017 15:44 Age: 266 days

Country nurses travel to Ethiopia to share knowledge


WACHS nurses Rhiann Gosper and Helen Guiness (on ground) demonstrate a log roll used to move people who have suffered trauma without causing further injury.

Three nurses from York Health Service were recently sponsored by Australian Doctors for Africa (ADFA) to travel to the capital of Ethiopia, and share their knowledge with registered nurses who are receiving extra tuition at Addis Ababa University.

WA Country Health Service (WACHS) Registered Nurse Ann Mitchell, Clinical Nurse Rhiann Gosper and Clinical Nurse Helen Guinness spent two weeks training 42 nurses in orthopaedic nursing, including basic theatre skills, wound care, infection control, hand hygiene, pressure care, vital signs and neurovascular observations.

Team leader Ann Mitchell had spent 18 years working in developing countries when she was approached by ADFA to go to Ethiopia.

“I’ve been to Ethiopia four times now, but I first involved other nurses from York Health Service three years ago,” Ms Mitchell said.

 “I’m always proud of the nurses I take with me to Ethiopia, they do such a good job.

“Country nurses have a wide range of experience. Nothing fazes them, making them perfect teachers for African nurses, who often face a lack of resources and modern equipment in their hospitals.

“But it is definitely two-way learning, we’ve learnt as much from them as they’ve learnt from us.

“We’ve learnt how stoic and resilient African nurses can be, as well as how resourceful. It’s helped us be super appreciative of the conditions and the resources we have in Australia.”

York Health Service Manager Anne Coyne has a background in international aid work and feels that nurses get valuable professional and personal rewards from participating in programs such as the one run by ADFA.

“I like to live by Winston’s Churchill’s motto: ‘we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give’,” Ms Coyne said.

“I’m keen to educate nurses away from their comfort zones. Issues of language and culture usually prompt us to learn from a different perspective, so to throw in work skills provides an added layer for teaching in a different culture

“WACHS supports staff participation by offering community service leave and provides them with a basic wage for the days they work while away.”

All the Ethiopian nurses who participated in the training passed their assessments and received certificates of attendance from the Medical Director of the Faculty of Medicine at Addis Ababa University.

“The Medical Director was so pleased with the outcomes of our training program that he asked ADFA to contribute to the curriculum for a masters degree for orthopaedic nurses,” Ms Mitchell said.

ADFA is a leading medical humanitarian organisation providing medical training and services assistance, hospital equipment and structural redevelopments for vulnerable communities in East Africa, to enable great access to treatment and long- term sustainable development.

York Health Services has an ongoing commitment to ADFA and will send two more teams of nurses to Ethiopia this year, one in July and one in November. The other nurses who will be part of the teams later this year are York Health Service Manager Anne Coyne and Registered Nurse Karen Fawkes.