Nursing student gets hands-on experience at Nigerian hospital

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Fall 18-3-2008

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame, Sydney Campus

Publication Place



Spending the summer in Nigeria volunteering in a local hospital was a hands-on and rewarding experience for a nursing student from The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Sydney Campus.

Ruth Mychael, Sydney’s 2007 Vice Chancellor’s medallist, spent three months helping out at the Vom Christian Hospital, working on the maternity, children’s and men’s wards and at the psychiatric, drugs and alcohol rehabilitation unit.

Ms Mychael grew up in Nigeria living there from 1993 to 2005 in the town Vom, before coming back to Australia to study. Her parents work as missionaries there. She is planning to work in a similar situation once finishing her nursing degree and wanted to see what it was like working in the Nigerian health system.

Whilst at the Hospital, Ms Mychael helped with patient care, undertaking a number of tasks. She also worked in the ante-natal clinic, testing mothers for HIV and spent time with patients and their families.

“In Nigeria, nursing students are sent to do a lot of the work without supervision. Once when I was assisting with a delivery I was left to dry, measure and dress the newborn myself. The way of doing things in hospitals over there is very different.

“There is no public health system in Nigeria so when a doctor prescribes drugs for a patient, the family goes to the pharmacy to buy them. If the family has no money, there are no drugs to give to the patient. I fainted for the first time when I watched a little boy, with over 50% of his body burnt, have dressings changed with no pain relief.

“This experience helped me to see how essential basic health is to life. It has given me more motivation to do well, to make the most of the opportunity of my education so that I can take it and use it to help those who desperately need it,” said Ms Mychael.

Before leaving for Vom a fundraising BBQ was organised by Ms Mychael and some other students at Notre Dame where they collected over $500 in donations. The money was taken to the Vom Christian Hospital and divided and shared with a few departments.

“The money went towards blankets, pillows, sheets, mackintoshes as well as a substantial amount for the poor fund, which assists patients in purchasing their medication,” said Ms Mychael.

Media contact:

Moira Saunders 08 9433 0611, 0408 959 138