The 10 students and their academics in China

Edge Hill University students travelled to Harbin Medical University (HMU) as part of a Study Abroad Exchange Programme with the Faculty of Health and Social Care.

Each year, 10 students spend two weeks in the city of Daqing, in Heilongjiang Province, North East China at the university’s satellite campus, with this year’s intake made up of seven Nursing, two Operating Department Practitioner and one Paramedic pre-registration students. Those who were successful were selected via an interview process, led by Veronica Vernon, Senior Lecturer in the Nurse Education Department and Rachel Pogson, Lecturer in the Paramedic Team.

The group, whose trip was funded by the Student Opportunity Fund, experienced the similarities and differences between professional practice, teaching, lifestyle and culture, as well as sampling university life, and blogged about their experience throughout the visit.

Rachel Pogson accompanied the students and said:

“I would like to commend the students who participated in the trip. They immersed themselves in the culture and made a concerted effort to embrace aspects that are very different to our lifestyles!

“The itinerary was full of activities that allowed the students to experience Chinese higher education, history, culture and traditional medicine. They took themselves out of their comfort zones and developed skills such as communication and adaptability, increasing their awareness to the differences and similarities between the cultures. These skills will be transferable to both university and their future employment and I witnessed first-hand how much more confident these students became.”

Many of the students spoke of the advantages of developing relationships and an understanding of the roles of interpersonal professionals, such as adult nurses understanding the demands and variations in skillset of a children’s nurse, and vice versa and the variety of specialisms between doctors and specialists.

Differences included the approach to health and social care, medicine and what would be considered ‘alternative’ therapies in the UK, but which are deemed the norm in China. This is also indicated in the distinct separations adopted in the role of doctor or nurse, in contrast to the nuanced, specialised roles across the health and social care sector experience here.

Emily Adair, Natasha Gaskell and Jordan Dolan were three students who benefited from the trip. Emily reflected:

“I have always suffered with low confidence; therefore, this trip was a huge leap out of my comfort zone. One of my biggest fears is public speaking and performing in front of people, but I conquered those fears as we presented and performed! My confidence has grown, something that will benefit me when I qualify as a nurse.

“The trip was an amazing experience, and it was interesting to visit different hospitals and compare them to ours, including the Chinese traditional medicine hospital. The trip was fantastic; every student would benefit from travelling abroad and experiencing new cultures.”

Natasha said:

“It was an incredible experience. It has enabled me to sharpen my communication skills and awareness of other cultures, and increase my confidence of public speaking, something that I struggled with before. A lot of activities and presentations were handed to us at short notice, so this allowed me to become versatile and think outside the box, which is key to being a nurse.

“The trip has helped me to grow on a professional and personal level. I feel much more independent having travelled such a distance to experience how the other half live and my perspectives on life. It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip and I will be forever grateful for having had the chance to go.”

Jordan added:

“By giving me this opportunity, it has helped me grow professionally as we met a lot of senior people in formal settings such as conferences, helping me to enhance personal skills such as communication. I want to thank the Student Opportunity Fund for giving me this amazing opportunity. I have made lifelong friends and have experienced things that still feel like a dream, and it was all made possible by this funding opportunity.”

To find out more about the Faculty of Health and Social Care, including recruitment details for Adult, Mental Health and Learning Disabilities degrees (September 2019 and January 2020), and Mental Health Nursing and Social Work (September 2019) visit the nursing course page

Read more about the students’ experience in Daqing on their blog page.