Ashleigh Driver, a Second Year Child Nursing student travelled to Bern in Switzerland and Maria Villaflor (Maria is pictured above), a Second Year Adult Nursing peer, went to Tarragona in Spain, both for two-week long, self-funded overseas placements through the European Nursing Module (ENM). This programme is currently only available in the UK through the University of Northampton and two other universities.
Here, they blog about what they did for their placements, what they learned and whether having access to the ENM means prospective nursing students should consider Northampton.
I chose to spend my own money because it felt like an opportunity I wouldn’t get again. It was really important for me to experience as much as I can whilst on my nursing course.
Admittedly, I spent more than I thought I would as the cost of living in Switzerland is much higher than the UK. However, on its own, that wouldn’t have stopped me from going.
I found the exchange really interesting, I learnt about the Swiss healthcare system and the healthcare systems of all countries involved with the exchange. I got to observe care first-hand and see how this differs to my own. I spent so much time with the other students on the exchange that I was able to observe other cultures and make connections with people all over the world.
I can’t recommend enough going on a placement like this. It really is an opportunity to do something you otherwise wouldn’t get to do. It’s important to observe and take a step back from care, which can be really eye opening about the way you behave around patients (body language). I strongly believe that even if I had a negative experience I would still recommend this exchange – if you don’t try, you never know!
I enjoy the self-directed study and feel that it enables me to learn at my own pace but the lecturing staff are really supportive and I know I have their support if I need it. The skills sessions are really enjoyable and I like the format of having third years perform some of these skills and teach us – it feels really inclusive and helps us to make connections with the other students from other years.
It’s great being at Waterside, too. It’s very modern and I feel lucky that I’ve had a chance to study in these facilities. I also am really enjoying the equipment that the nursing department now has – the mannequins are great and the virtual reality simulation are so interesting. It definitely feels that the University have taken a very advanced approach to studying and I feel really privileged to be a part of it.
Travelling to different countries is something I like to do as often as I can outside of my course. It is also what I want to do in the future, as I want to become a tropical nurse and travel abroad. It is a quick taste of what I could be doing as a career in the future. It was an extraordinary experience and it was more than worth it.
Both England and Spain have a similar healthcare system, but the way nurses are trained and work are very different. The main thing I took away from my placement was the difference between the workload of nurses, mainly I was surprised at how minimal the paper works that nurses need to complete in Spain. It made me realise how the amount of paperwork nurses complete in England can impact patient and practitioner relationship.
Overall, the trip provided me with great confidence in my ability as a student nurse in England. I was proud of my clinical and theoretical knowledge, due to my lectures and placement experience with UoN.
The experience made me become more self-aware and made me realise how much I have learned in the space of 2 years and how much I have grown in my field of nursing and how much the profession itself has changed me as a person. It also taught me of the improvements I can make in myself and has helped push me even more to pursue a career where I can make a difference.
A lot of students on my course were unaware of this opportunity. I already had a few friends in the course applying to the next ENM. I have other friends studying nursing in other universities, who were interested in the experience but unfortunately only 2 other universities offer ENM – I think the description itself sells the idea of going!
A tip I would give to anyone participating in this trip is to have at least a basic understanding of the culture and language in the country you want to go to. I was fortunate to understand some Spanish, being bilingual, but still had to really rely on host students being my translator.
Find out more about the Nursing courses at University of Northampton.