News: Letter from Vunapope, PNG

Students at St Mary's School of Nursing
Annette Pocock is working as a volunteer nurse educator at St Mary’s nursing college in Vunapope, PNG.  Recently, Annette received an enquiry about what she is doing and her thoughts on volunteering.  Here is her response:

Thanks for the email.  I didn’t have any teaching experience before coming here either and have actually worked in mental health for the last 10 years, so was a bit hesitant about a position as an educator in General Nursing.  I didn’t know what I would be teaching but I do think things have gone reasonably well.  I have surprised myself and am really enjoying the work.

I will be starting back in classes next week and am sure the second year will come more easily.  I do use PowerPoint presentations for most of my classes which took some time preparing last year but I find it so much easier and am sure its better for the students, being not such a great public speaker.   There are a few A&P Videos that we use as well and lots of posters and models.   The library is fairly well resourced. Books may be a little old – edition wise and in condition – but they manage.

I am teaching the first-year students Anatomy and Physiology (commencing with a bit of basic science revision), which consists of lectures and tutorials (I give lots of handouts of lecture notes).  I am also teaching Communications studies for half of the first semester and that includes such things as writing academic papers, oral presentations, study skills, grammar etc.  I have had no real experience with this but have enjoyed both learning and teaching it.

Annette with Nursing students on St Mary's day
I also taught mental health to the third-year students in semester 2, so felt a lot more comfortable with my knowledge base and enjoyed learning about mental illness in PNG and treatment and care here.

I didn’t realise the work & time that is involved in marking essays, tests and exams and have a new found appreciation for lecturers having to do this never ending task. The papers just keep coming in and include weekly revision worksheets, but I have learned a lot of it has to do with preparation and the clarity in which you ask the questions and learning how the girls interpret and understand things.  This year I will also be in a better position to know what areas they struggled in and place more time and emphasis on these areas.

My other duty is to maintain the library, which doesn’t really have a system.  I just have to go through and audit it for missing books and close the library until all books are returned.

There are about 30 students in each year and they expect at least a couple to either drop out or not pass the first year.  The girls are really lovely so it’s a pleasure to teach them.

Hope you do manage to take up the opportunity.  I know it is two years, but it’s well worth it and the time thus far has flown.

Annette

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I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands
to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any. - Mohandas Gandhi