Professional Diploma in Tropical Nursing
Paramedic Kevin told us about his time at LSHTM studying the Professional Diploma in Tropical Nursing (DTN).
The DTN is recommended by Médecins Sans Frontières, Save the Children, Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) the British Red Cross and many more international agencies, and has trained hundreds of nurses to work in low-income settings and make significant contributions to world health.
Over the last 12 years, I have worked as a Paramedic for the London Ambulance Service and volunteered for overseas emergencies with UKMED, in places such as Nepal, where I was deployed following the 2015 Earthquake. Reflecting on my experiences there, I identified areas where I needed further training. This sparked my decision to join the Professional Diploma in Tropical Nursing course at LSHTM. The programme was fantastic and covered a wide variety of subject areas. It equipped me with a wide range of practical skills – some of which I had not even contemplated before! I believe I have become a better Paramedic as a result of completing the programme, and I highly recommended it to my colleagues.
In terms of what we covered in the programme, every week we attended a mixture of lectures and discussion groups, as well as studying in the laboratory for practical sessions and participating in a video conference. The subject matter was constantly changing – I do not recall feeling there was a “typical” day!
"I believe I have become a better Paramedic as a result of completing the programme, and I highly recommended it to my colleagues."
The teaching was of a very high standard. I was impressed that every session was led enthusiastically by experts with first-hand experience of the subject or skill they were teaching.
The course naturally attracts people with similar interests and goals, and so although there was a distinct gender imbalance in the programme, I never felt out of place. I also remember people supporting each other whenever they asked for help.
The main skills and knowledge I developed through the programme were a good understanding of common medical conditions affecting low and middle-income countries. I learned about their pathologies and how to treat them, as well as developing an understanding of the social-economic causes that contribute to health inequalities.
For example, I had never even heard of Chagas disease before the DTN course. Learning how straightforward it is to manage and treat leprosy effectively was very interesting. I never expected to receive training in suturing wounds or basic dentistry - but both were brilliant sessions. Additionally, I had always thought of malnutrition as a lack of food intake as opposed to a lack of correct micronutrients or overeating, and I had never even considered that overeating was a problem in low and resource-poor countries. However, the lecture demonstrated that nutrition is clearly a complex area and fundamentally affected by socio-economic factors.
Having completed the programme, I now plan to return to overseas volunteering, putting my new skills and expertise into practice directly in the field! I currently volunteer with UKMED providing Emergency Medical support in sudden-onset disasters. I hope the DTN will stand me in good stead for future call-ups on voluntary placements.
I believe that the programme will help me to develop my career. It has already helped develop my confidence when talking to patients about primary health matters. I used to be surprised at how many patients I would see in London with HIV or TB, but I had received no formal training on these conditions whilst training as a paramedic. I found the lectures on these conditions most useful during the DTN course. The maternal health and obstetric lectures that encompassed women's status and treatment in low and resource-poor countries have also helped me appreciate these sensitivities when assessing and talking to Londoners with heritages from tropical countries.
The thing I will remember most about the Diploma in Tropical Nursing is looking down the microscope at all sort of nasty things… loads of different parasitic wiggly worms, eggs and malaria-infected blood cells!
To anybody who is considering applying for the programme, I would say: do it! The challenge will open your eyes in ways you will not expect.
Find out more and apply for the Professional Diploma in Tropical Nursing.