The lessons I learnt from the Land of Smiles

So I guess what I want to get down to, is what has this trip given me. I know if there is one thing; I returned home a different person. I returned home with this immense social awareness of the gaps between rich and poor and how these socioeconomic influences impact on the health of populations. I witnessed this; horrific victims of fires begging in the streets, women and their babies begging in the streets, the blind and deaf, pacing up the streets begging for cash. I’ve always witnessed the upper end of the social echelon, and have had hospital “business” sold to me. I’ve seen medications sold in markets, unregulated; I’ve seen Siamese babies, a baby born without a brain, abnormalities that should not exist in this day and age anywhere in this world , I’ve seen the faces of forgotten people living with HIV brushed to the edge of town. I’ve seen sex tourism and the end products of children without families…what I’ve seen, some people probably would never think thing about.

Where does this leave my learning….all these things, what are they screaming at me? The answer is simple: Prevention and ease of access to good healthcare and above all coordination and cooperation from governments, private and public health sectors to recognise their role in campaigning and promoting health and wellbeing to the populations. Health is not a privilege… it is a fundamental right of being human and the recognition of this must influence and alleviate social stigma’s and break down the barriers the are infringing upon the ability of people to have good healthcare. Health should not be aligned with social echelons that decides how sectors of the community can and cannot access treatment.

Secondly, the nursing graduates and population of Thailand, are a cohort of finely trained health professionals and there must be a restructuring of primary healthcare that develops incentives for nurses to filter their practice into the communities and be sources of prevention and ‘agents of change’.

If anything, this experience has instilled within an even greater desire to achieve my goals of becoming a proficient and competent health practitioner and has given me an appreciation for humans and their resilience. To witness people with not much materially, exist to be the most in-touch, beautiful souled people, happy with they have; family and community. To strive to exist when hardships are thrown their way and the ability to keep working and working and working to make their ends meets. This experience has only pushed me to want to educate myself further and extend my nursing knowledge where I can work in a variety of specialised areas, but also educate Australian student nurses, but most importantly work at government levels; advocating for minority and disadvantaged populations with poor health; particularly those in rural and remote areas. I feel that to some degree, I have been inspired to want to work overseas and give my time and skills there; again working with disadvantaged populations. At the end of the day, this experience has shown me that Nursing is an international profession, that transcends all cultures, social politics, languages, etc. It is a human profession with a central focus; delivering efficient, appropriate healthcare and supporting individuals, communities and entire populations to take control of their own health and lead fulfilling lives.

-Kate, Health for Wealth Nursing Program, Thailand

This is an excerpt from Kate’s blog about her experiences in Thailand on the Health for Wealth Nursing Program. Visit her blog The Nurse with the Birds to read more.

Photo courtesy of Karina (Prime the Line:
Photo courtesy of Karina (Prime the Line:
Crushing poor little Nok (our tour guide) in a goodbye hug! Photo courtesy of Karina (Prime the Line:
Crushing poor little Nok (our tour guide) in a goodbye hug! Photo courtesy of Karina (Prime the Line:

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