Sio Weng Chi

Exchange student from the programme Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Clinical placement refection in Portugal

I'm much honored to have had the chance to experience a clinical placement in Coimbra, Portugal. This was my first time to study abroad.

I practiced in cardiothoracic surgery at the Hospitals of Coimbra University, where I had the chance to observe in an intensive care unit, intermediate room (about 1 day after an operation the patients are transferred to this unit) and the operation room. Although the equipment available was scarcer than in Macao, the nurse-patient relationship was very good. They introduced themselves to patients the first time they met. They talked with patients patiently and seemed to be like friends. They showed concern about patients’ pain. Portuguese culture is very different in Macao. The nurses relax even though they work.

This was my first time to practice in a health centre. Over three weeks I learned about the operation of Celas Health Centre. Because of the different culture, policies, economics etc, I found the Portuguese health centre to be different to Macao's. In Portugal the patients include a wide variety of types such as pregnant women, mental patients, poor people, and people in different development stages etc. The community nurses are similar to family nurses. They care for the whole family, not only individuals. They provide patients with holistic and individualized nursing interventions. I observed that there was friendship between the nurses and their patients. The community nurses also plan educational schedules and teach children in schools about healthy food, hygiene and a healthy life style. They also regularly go to the patients'homes to provide care.

One nurse told me that the birth rate in Portugal has decreased since the economic downturn,as people don't have enough money so they do not want to have babies. In Macao pregnant women need not pay for health services in the health centers and government hospital. Residents who are under 10 years old, those having student cards, the over 65s,  poor people, prisoners, those with disabilities or suffering from infectious diseases, drug addiction, cancer and psychiatric disorders, are also provided with free services in the health centers and government hospital. All residents of Macao are entitled to free primary health care.

Although it is not cheap to obtain primary health care in Portugal, there are more people using health centers than in Macao. I suspect that this is because the Portuguese are more concerned about primary health care than people in Macao, and also there are more friendships between the nurses and their patients in Portugal.

I am very happy that I have had the opportunity to practice at a health centre in Portugal. I enjoyed participating in the activities which the teacher designed for us, such as the health education for children and older women. I was able to gain an understanding of community health care in Portugal. The nurses and students were very nice and friendly. They explained and translated patiently for me. They didn’t mind me bothering them, and for this I am very grateful.

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