Studying the Diploma in Tropical Nursing - Melanie's story

Melanie chatted to us about her time at LSHTM studying the Professional Diploma in Tropical Nursing (PDTN) on campus in 2020.
Melanie with colleagues

"I studied nursing in Victoria, Australia and started working at a large Melbourne hospital. After my graduate year, I studied a post-graduate diploma of Midwifery and have worked in both paediatrics and maternity since. In 2015, I spent 6 weeks volunteering at a women and children's hospital in South Sudan, and was planning to return the following year. I was able to spend 2 months in South Sudan before the civil war forced us to evacuate to Uganda. I then spent the following 18 months in Northern Uganda working with a small NGO called Medical Teams International and at one of the local hospitals. My work included antenatal clinics, deliveries and immunisation clinics within the refugee camps. After returning to Australia, I realised how much I enjoyed working cross-culturally and how much I still needed to learn. I had heard about the PDTN from a friend and decided to apply.

A day on the PDTN is long, but interesting, consisting of lectures and practical lab classes. Well-regarded doctors, nurses and experienced researchers deliver the lectures and teaching, and all lecture content was practical and relevant to clinical and in-the field-situations. The lecturers were brilliant, had a wealth of knowledge and experience, were easy to learn from and were approachable. In terms of the student body, because we were all nurses and midwives already, we all had a common core interest. What made it special and unique was the wide range of clinical experience and travel history among us. Many of us had travelled and worked in LMICs before, and so being able to share relevant stories and ask more in-depth questions allowed for greater understanding for the whole student body.

“The course has been a wonderful addition to my CV and has aided me in furthering my knowledge and understanding of healthcare in LMICs"

I now have a toolkit of practicals skills to use in the field, for example, I know how to use a microscope to diagnose many different diseases and even to do simple things like checking haemoglobins. I have a much larger understanding of tropical diseases and their courses, diagnosis and treatment and was able to learn more about LMICs, refugee camps, IDP and many other relevant and helpful topics. My next step following the course is to head back to Uganda to work with a small NGO. We will be working alongside the ministry of health and I will be focusing mostly on maternity; mutual exchange of knowledge and sustainable healthcare, while contributing to research, so I'll get to use many of the skills I developed through the programme.

The PDTN has been a wonderful addition to my CV and has aided me in furthering my knowledge and understanding of healthcare in LMICs, which in turn has helped me get into paid professional volunteering. The friendships I've made and the networking opportunities I've had with experienced professionals have been invaluable.

To anyone considering applying for the PDTN, I'd say: do it! It is such a wonderful way to meet like-minded people and gain some very practical and helpful knowledge."

Melanie and colleagues - PDTN
Melanie with colleagues