A passion to provide care for people in developing countries is the fuel for studyfor Griffith University Bachelor of Nursing student Elizabeth Eastwell.

The second year student is gearing up to join international volunteer program Antipodeans Abroad in January next year, where she will be based in remote communities in Laos.

Along with other Griffith Bachelor of Nursing and Midwifery students, Elizabeth, 44, will be quickly put to work providing primary healthcare services to local people, some of whom have never been in contact with Westerners before.

As a mature student with three children aged 12, 14 and 16, the trip will be a dream come true for Elizabeth who recently made the career change from dental assistant to nursing.

A true passion

“I was a dental assistant practically from the time I left school and although I enjoyed it, it was never really my true calling,” she says. “One day I realised that I just had to see if I could get into nursing as that was where my true passion has always been.

“I was really scared to apply as I thought I wouldn’t have the intelligence to do it, plus I was worried about juggling it all with looking after the kids, but once I got onto the program I knew I had definitely made the right decision.

“I really love nursing and now I am really looking forward to this trip to Laos where we have been told that respiratory problems, tuberculosis and possibly burns will be high on the agenda of medical issues within the places we will visit.”

Along with some 53 other students, Elizabeth will have the chance to explore the city of Luang Prabang, including a visit to the local hospital, before travelling north to become part of a temporary team, providing healthcare and health promotion to the remote communities which have very limited access to quality healthcare and resources.

The team has also been lucky enough to secure a range of dental products and educational models from Elizabeth’s previous employer Periocare, a specialist periodontal practice based in Chermside.

The products will facilitate the group in providing oral and health education programs within the communities.

“I have a fantastic opportunity ahead of me. It will be tough setting up makeshift clinics but I am looking forward to making a difference, particularly with the children,” says Elizabeth. “I am sure it will be both a rewarding and humbling experience.”