A two week cultural study tour to Boromrajonani College of Nursing in Nakhon Lampang in Northern Thailand was designed to introduce students to the culture of Thailand and the role of complementary therapies in health care in Thailand.
Twelve undergraduate nursing students participated in a series of lectures, workshops and observations on aspects of Thai massage. On a visit to Lampang Hospital and a maternity hospital they were also able to see Thai massage in action on women in labour, and later completed a practical examination.
The students also spent time at a variety of community hospitals and centres where traditional Thai healing practices are used in conjunction with western medicine, including Thung Bo Paen Rehabilitation Centre where Thai massage, herbal therapies and meditation are practised. Many of the patients at this holistic centre are elderly and have suffered from stroke and head injury.
The study tour also included a day working at Lampang Hospital’s Fairy Garden. This ‘healing haven’ for children was inspired by the Fairy Garden at the John Hunter Hospital. The establishment of the garden in Thailand has been the result of a community engagement project with the University’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, which will further cement ties the School has with the Lampang region and opens up more research possibilities for staff in partnership with staff at Boromrajonani College of Nursing.
The students were accompanied by Associate Professor Pamela Van der Riet and lecturer Lyn Francis from the School of Nursing and Midwifery. Associate Professor Van der Riet provided a presentation on researching death and dying and the ethics of researching vulnerable populations, while Ms Francis presented on her doctoral research, domestic violence and ethics with a particular focus on ethical issues regarding research in the area of domestic violence.
At these presentations there were nurses in attendance from Lampang Hospital and academics from Boromrajonani College. Ms Francis also provided a 30 minute presentation to first year nursing students on the value and advantages of coming to Australia to study.
Student testimonials show that the cultural study tour had a lasting effect on the students, with many keen to implement the new skills and knowledge into their clinical practice. The students also offered high praise to the college and staff for their hospital and generosity.