International Immersion Programs in Baccalaureate Nursing Education: Professor and Student Perspectives

Article excerpt

Abstract: This article presents the dual perspectives of professor and student in relation to the explicit need for nurses to become acutely conscious of cultural competence through self-awareness and how this influences nursing care. Mary Anne Levine, Professor of Nursing, discusses the development, planning, implementation, and evolution of the International Immersion Program (IIP) at Humboldt State University. The student experience, integration, and evaluation of IIP and its impact on one's professional and personal life are described by Elizabeth Perpetua, currently a practicing RN, who participated in the program in Nakhodka, Russia.

Key Words: Midwifery, Russia, Nursing Education, International Nursing, Nursing Programs, Transcultural Nursing, Crosscultural Nursing

In the ever-changing world of the new millennium, there has emerged an explicit need for nursing students and nurses to become acutely conscious of who they are and how this impacts their nursing care. Each must be cognizant of his or her value system, culture, and philosophy, and the overwhelming potential effects, be they beneficial or detrimental, in one's professional roles (Ramsden, 1995). Reflection (Taylor, 2000) on one's practice facilitates the development of self-knowledge, and fosters therapeutic use of self (Peplau, 1952).

With this is mind, MaryAnne Levine, Professor of Nursing, developed the International Immersion Program (IIP) at Humboldt State University (HSU) which has prepared students for hands-on nursing experience in countries such as the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico, Nepal, the Philippines, Russia, and Slovenia. This article explores the unique perspectives of professor and student, as Levine describes her program and its inception, within an eclectic use of nursing theories (Erickson, Tomlin, & Swain, 1983; Leininger, 1978; Peplau, 1952; Ramsden, 1990) and the sociological model (Mead, 1934; Polkinghorne, 1988), which incorporates the five institutions of societies . Evaluation of the program's implementation and the impact upon the professional and personal life of one student, currently a practicing Registered Nurse (RN) and graduate student, are described by Elizabeth Perpetua, who participated in the International Immersion Program 2000 to Nakhodka, Russia.

INTERNATIONAL IMMERSION PROGRAM OBJECTIVES

Since 1971, Levine, as a volunteer nurse and midwife, has immersed herself in the culture and health care systems of communities worldwide. In both Great Britain and the United States, Levine has worked with diverse and marginalized populations. Prior to starting the International Immersion Program at HSU, Levine practiced nursing in India and Malawi, and has also worked in Peru, and in China. In each of these venues, her roles and functions included, but were not limited to: practitioner, mentor, teacher, facilitator, planned change agent, and promoter of professional and socio-cultural bridges. Based on her love of people and learning, and her will to share this with others, Levine's program objectives were:

1. To promote professional nursing and midwifery,

2. To promote cultural diversity,

3. To promote personal/psycho/socio/cultural growth,

4. To explore, and internalize the meaning of cultural diversity,

5. To experience, first hand, living and practicing nursing in another culture,

6. To view life from the vantage point of others,

7. To network with student nurses of other cultures, as well as with related professional disciplines,

8. To comprehend the uniqueness and importance of any society's cultural milieu,

9. To appreciate the universal experiences of humanity, as well as to understand the differences, and

10. To utilize this transcultural nursing experience as a stepping stone into the illuminating world of cultural diversity in one's professional as well as personal life.

Levine's teaching philosophy includes the belief that learning should be an active and interactive process, which should be initiated, activated, and evaluated by both learner and teacher. …