Diploma in Tropical Nursing alumna & Kunming Medical University Professor: Nancy Liu

 Diploma in Tropical Nursing (2011) alumna Nancy Liu describes her time studying at LSHTM and how she is inspiring Chinese nurses at Kunming Medical University.

“I remember the first day of school when everyone went around and told each other a bit about themselves and what they had done in the past; I was floored. To have the opportunity to learn with a group of such adventurous minded nurses blew me away.

I still remember our first day in the lab; I sat on the lab chair, stiff as a board, to observe the malaria parasites under microscope. As tropical medicine was a totally new course to me, I did not really understand the terminology around parasites, which had me questioning why I had chosen the course, and how I was going to get through it. However, by the end of the course and after the lab examination day, I believe I had learnt so much that there was no way any of the parasites were going to escape from my sights.

Nancy and her classmates in the Manson Lecture Theatre

The most exciting thing about the course was communicating with the teachers during the lectures and with all 61 of my lovely classmates from all over the world. Most of them had been international travelling nurses working in rural mobile health clinics in resource-poor countries, such as Haiti post-earthquake, Sub-Saharan Africa, Malawi, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Nepal and India. It was great meeting new and like-minded people and sharing experiences. Their amazing work experience was so interesting and it encouraged me to gain more experience working in resource poor settings.

I was greatly encouraged by Claire Bertschinger, the Director of the course, who was awarded the Florence Nightingale Medal in recognition of her work in conflict situations and developing countries. She kindly helped me to revise my English essay and was always on hand whenever we needed help. She always pushed us to do our best; to continue long-life study; to be a brilliant nurse in our field; to help poor people in need using the knowledge we gained on the Diploma in Tropical Nursing (DTN) course; as she said in her book “Moving Mountains”, “There’s nothing sweeter, gender or softer than water. But water has the power to move mountains.”

My studies at LSHTM taught me to be open minded, to be polite to everybody I meet, and to be positive and active in everyday life. Studying at the School helped me to learn about myself. I now see myself and other people in a different way and have more of an understanding about the difficulties faced in the developing parts of the world.

I was so surprised by the respect that the speakers on the course had for nurses and their belief that we could go out and apply what we learnt from the course, and make a difference. The course has helped me become more passionate in my studies, career and life. I have learnt that nurses really can make a difference.

The DTN course is an intensive one, and it was not possible to cover all I may need or wish to know in such a wide field within 5 months. However, the course encouraged me to continue independent study, and equipped me with the means to do this. I have always been a fan of lifelong learning, and I remain open minded about how I will use this course. I have always been interested in working in global health and development and I look forward to a lifetime of using the knowledge I have gained from LSHTM to help people all over the world.

I currently teach community nursing to undergraduate nursing students in Kunming Medical University. There are some challenges that I have experienced in comparison to community health centres in London. For example in China, there is no centralised health record system, which makes it hard to teach students to record the patient’s electronic data at the community health center. In order to broaden my students’ horizons on nursing across the globe, I will inspire them to learn more about how to develop skills in communicating with people in the tropics and resource poor situations, in the areas of basic hygiene, sanitation and prevention of disease, which are new topics in their textbooks now that can be quite hard to learn about without practical experience.

To current students or future ones, I would like to tell you that studying at LSHTM will be a very wonderful time in your life that you could never imagine before. Please treasure every day on the DTN course at LSHTM; try to communicate as much as you can with your classmates and teacher. You never know, maybe someone in this class will become your long life friend or will change your attitude to your career and life in a very gentle way. Everyday counts, trust me!”

Images courtesy of Nancy Liu.

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