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SUNY Canton nursing student learns while visiting Australia

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NORFOLK — Thanks to a number of sponsors, a nursing student at SUNY Canton headed “down under” to learn about health care in Australia.

“It was good. I got a lot of education,” said Megan E. Dean of Norfolk.

Ms. Dean, who works at Massena Memorial Hospital and will further her nursing education, had been nominated by Phi Theta Kappa for an eight-day trip to the Delegation on Nursing in Australia through the International Scholar Laureate program.

She had a choice between Australia and China.

It was an eye-opening experience for her, she said, as she learned about the differences in health care.

“I think the care in general is similar,” Ms. Dean said. “It’s just the health insurance that is different. Everybody has health insurance. The more you make, the more you pay.”

If a household has a combined income of more than $100,000, it must get its own insurance or it is penalized if it is still under Medicare.

Australia has private and public hospitals, and those who don’t have income are still seen at the public hospitals, she said.

Those who have private insurance can go to a public or private hospital.

In addition, Ms. Dean said, 70 percent of the physicians use alternative medicine and aren’t reimbursed for their services.

She said the group also learned about the country’s nursing shortage, diseases still prevalent in Australia and the history of its midwife program and its traditions.

“We had many guest speakers who were professors, nurses and midwives. We had two different nurses that came in and spoke to us about universal health care, the nursing shortage and how nurses contribute in Australia,” Ms. Dean said. “We also learned about the Medicare system with free health insurance and how rural the center of Australia is.”

The group visited the Museum of Human Disease and took tours of a couple of women and infant hospitals.

It also learned about remote areas of Australia — how secluded they are, with no health care and a travel time of more than an hour to reach a hospital.

“We got to learn about Aboriginals. That was my favorite part,” Ms. Dean said. “We had a talk and then went to an Aboriginal school. It started as a one-room school. Now it has 250 kids.”

During her visit, she and others traveled to Sydney and Brisbane for eight days.

Their visit coincided with the winter season, which meant plenty of rain.

“We had a tour of the most famous opera house,” she said. “On our free time we went to the botanical gardens, Chinese gardens, Manly Beach and the Markets. ‘Vivid’ was going on the week we were there. This is where they light up the Sydney Opera House at night as well as some buildings. The whole town glows.”

The Australia visit gave her an opportunity to visit the Koala Sanctuary, where she had her first encounters with koalas, kangaroos and some of the country’s other animals such as dingoes, platypuses, parrots and Tasmanian devils.

Ms. Dean had to raise money to make the trip, and she collected about $6,000 in a month.

“I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it, but I got pointed in a couple of directions,” she said. “My school funded me over half the money I needed for my trip, and if it wasn’t for SUNY Canton’s help this probably wouldn’t be made possible with the short time I had to raise money.”

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