Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

The Lived Experience of Honduran and USA Nursing Students Working Together in a Study Abroad Program

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

The Lived Experience of Honduran and USA Nursing Students Working Together in a Study Abroad Program

Article excerpt

With the advent of globalization, the need for nurses to acquire an international perspective of health and health care has been recognized (Crigger, Brannigan, & Baird, 2006). Recent natural disasters around the world have required that health care workers be poised to travel to affected areas to collaborate with local health care and support personnel (Weiss, Holcomb, & Crigger, 2006). In addition, the increasingly multicultural nature of American society has created the need for health care workers to learn to provide care that is relevant and within the cultural context of their clients. Nursing study abroad is one approach to preparing student nurses to work more effectively in international environments as well as at home with culturally diverse clients. By placing students in environments that are genuinely different, where alternative perspectives predominate, students are forced to question the status quo and revise their ways of viewing reality aided by reflection and their personal experiences. These conditions are ideal for transformational learning to occur, according to the process described by McNaron (2009). Study abroad programs expose students to clients with different health beliefs and values, and they make it possible for nursing students to spend considerable time immersed in a different culture. The lessons learned from these cross cultural interactions are believed to affect future nurses' interactions with culturally diverse clients, and the success of future international collaborative efforts, including those in times of disaster.

The authors of this is transformational phenomenological study aimed to explore the lived experiences of American and Honduran nursing students' working together in Honduras during a Nursing study abroad program. The researchers believed the lessons learned from these cross cultural interactions would be significant in confirming that study abroad contributes to improved interactions with culturally diverse clients. The perspective of the host students was also examined with the belief that their experiences were an important component in the evaluation of the study abroad experience as a whole, and could provide knowledge of how to better prepare students and nurses for future international collaborative efforts, including those in times of disaster. Specifically, the researchers sought to:

1. Examine the lived experiences of US nursing students while collaborating with Honduran nursing students in a short term community health experience during a study abroad program in Honduras.

2. Examine the lived experiences of Honduran nursing students partnering with US students on a short term community health nursing project during an American nursing study abroad experience in Honduras.

3. Examine the lived experiences of American nursing students studying abroad.

Background and Review of the Literature

Descriptive non-empirical accounts of the value of nursing study abroad programs abound in the literature, with reports of positive effects of these experiences on students' self-awareness and comfort with the unfamiliar (Christoffersen, 2008; Mill, Yonge, & Cameron, 2005; Mkandawire-Valhmu & Deoring, 2012; Palmer, Wing, Miles, Heaston, & de la Cruz, 2013). Tabi and Mukherjee (2003) described their experiences with undergraduate students in Ghana and the benefits of the program, such as the development of students' resilience under difficult conditions and students' exposure to cultural and political forces influencing health care. Bosworth, Haloburdo, Hetrick, Patchett, Thompson, and Welch (2006) related that the positive effects of an international experience with American students working collaboratively with local students and faculty in Guyana support the need for more such programs. In a review of international clinical study opportunities for nursing students, Mill, Yonge, and Cameron (2005) described study abroad programs of varying lengths; some used preceptors or faculty in the host country, other programs had faculty accompanying students. …

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