Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

International Programs in United States Schools of Nursing: Driving Forces, Obstacles, and Opportunities

Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

International Programs in United States Schools of Nursing: Driving Forces, Obstacles, and Opportunities

Article excerpt

Abstract

AIM/PURPOSE To understand the development of international programs in United States schools of nursing from the perspective of driving forces, obstacles, and opportunities.

BACKGROUND Despite increasing philosophical support for international programs, significant obstacles to their development, integration, and sustainability exist in schools of nursing across the United States.

METHOD A National League for Nursing (NLN) survey collected information on the number and type of international programs being offered, with an emphasis on obstacles to integration.

RESULTS/FINDINGS Driving forces for international programs, identified by 487 responding institutions, included valued program outcomes, a global focus, and limited availability of clinical sites. Obstacles, such as cost, safety, and lack of credit toward a major, were identified.

CONCLUSION Suggestions for addressing and overcoming the obstacles are proposed, including the sharing of resources and utilization of the NLN Faculty Preparation for Global Experiences Toolkit. More research is needed to understand the implications for curricula, logistics, development, costs, and sustainability.

KEY WORDS

International Programs - Service-Learning - Study Abroad - Global Focus - Nursing Students - Nurse Faculty

High-impact education practices (Kuh, 2008) have been shown to improve learning for students from many backgrounds. Learning experiences such as international service-learning and study abroad programs incorporate several of the high-impact practices described by Kuh. These include: common intellectual experiences; learning communities that link courses and students together over time; collaborative assignments and projects requiring teamwork and problem-solving; diversity and global learning; and service/community-based/experiential learning that explores culture(s), experiences, and worldviews different from one's own.

Despite increasing philosophical support for service-learning and study abroad program development by institutions, a recent national survey by the National League for Nursing (NLN) revealed that fewer than 50 percent of United States schools of nursing have such programs, and faculty respondents identified significant obstacles to program development (McKinnon & McNelis, 2011). An analysis of issues pertaining to US schools of nursing has relevance on a global scale, since much of the information on driving forces, obstacles, and opportunities is universal, and lessons learned from the NLN survey can be applied globally. It is particularly important that partner countries have a shared understanding of strategies to create and sustain effective programs.

Faculty who endeavor to develop international programs within their schools of nursing are faced with a wide range of issues. Driving forces push for program expansion, but obstacles present challenges to program development, while opportunities provide means for addressing those obstacles. It is important for nurses to have an understanding of each of these influencing factors in order to construct a bridge between philosophical and functional support for international programs. Given the considerable obstacles to developing international programs, it is notable that faculty endeavor to undertake the challenge. (See Table 1 for a summary of the driving forces for international programs as discussed in the literature.)

This article offers, in the form of a case study, an example of how barriers may be mitigated in a creative manner in collaboration with an interprofessional health care team. The case study refers to the NLN Faculty Preparation for Global Experiences Toolkit (2012), developed to assist faculty who are considering or embarking on international experiences.

THE NLN Survey

Review of Terms

For the purpose of the survey, the term schools of nursing (SONs) refers to schools in the United States, whereas study abroad (SA) is used to refer to a course of study in a country outside the home institution. …

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