ABSTRACT The concept of global health is evolving with a growing recognition that international social, political, economic, environmental, and cultural issues affect health and health care around the world. Nurse faculty are challenged to find ways to prepare future nurses to provide care in an environment that is increasingly affected by globalization. This article presents results of a national survey of schools of nursing designed to identify a consensus definition for global health, attributes of the concept, and ways in which global health is identified and addressed in nursing curricula. Attributes of global health identified in this study are congruent with the literature. Implications for educators are presented, along with examples of how technology can be used to facilitate global interactions.
Keywords Faculty Role in Global Health--Globalization--Global Health Concepts--Nursing Education--Technology and Education
RECENT EVENTS, including the global spread of communicable disease across national boundaries, have focused attention on globalization and the cultural, environmental, and ethical issues that affect health throughout the world (1,2). Along with human migration and international travel and commerce, we have seen occurrences of SARS as well as increased incidence of tuberculosis in parts of the United States that have large numbers of Immigrants. Now the world is watching for the possible outbreak of avian flu among humans. The health impact of environmental pollution and global warming does not recognize international borders, and bioterrorism is, sadly, a worldwide threat (2).
While improvements in health that result from scientific developments, the efforts of global organizations, and rapid transportation and communication are encouraging, many health problems remain unsolved (3). Indeed, the complexity of issues represented by the term global health makes it difficult to arrive at a succinct definition of the concept (2,4-7).
The largest corps of health care providers, "nurses have the capacity to serve as caregivers and change agents in creating and implementing community and population focused health care systems" (2, p. 6). Therefore, nurses are encouraged to take a leading role in global health and broaden their views of health care beyond Western biomedicine and the American style health care system to consider the most viable approaches to health care in countries with different social, cultural, and political views (8). Among the strategies cited for achieving global health and equity are informed advocacy, challenging organizations to incorporate a global health mandate, and exercising citizen rights to influence policy (9).
While the literature indicates a growing recognition of the effects of globalization on health and nursing practice, references to global health in the nursing curricula are limited. Since global health is a developing concept, it would be helpful to schools of nursing to have a consensus definition and descriptions of content and experiences currently in place in the nursing curricula (1). This article presents the results of a national survey of schools of nursing that attempts to identify a consensus definition for global health, attributes of the concept, and ways in which global health is identified and addressed in nursing curricula.
Literature Review A review of the nursing literature revealed the growing recognition of how globalization and associated social, political, economic, environmental, and cultural issues impact health and nursing practice (2,5,6). Swan, Al-Gasseer, and Lang (10) offered an example of an interdisciplinary, collaborative approach to develop an international digital library that exemplifies the potential for interrelationships among health care providers in all parts of the world. This information repository, especially in the area of cost-effective nursing and midwifery services, could serve a global population. …