Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Expanding Worldview: Australian Nursing Students' Experience of Cultural Immersion in India

Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Expanding Worldview: Australian Nursing Students' Experience of Cultural Immersion in India

Article excerpt

Increasing diversity and globalisation have under- scored the need for nurses to provide culturally appropriate care and for nurse educators to help students learn how to provide the culturally appro- priate and acceptable care to their patients. In 2006, the Australian Government's National Health and Medical Research Council released a publication addressing this need entitled 'Cultural Competency in Health: A guide for policy, partnerships and par- ticipation' (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2006). Nurse education institutions have taken different approaches to the need for cultural competence within the health care workforce as there is currently no formally established educa- tional format. Neither is there a formal definition of cultural competence. For the purposes of this study, cultural competence can be defined as the ability to recognise and respect that there are differences in ideas about heath care and different methods of health care delivery. Further, cultural competence indicates a willingness to evaluate and incorporate these ideas into health care where possible.

One approach to improve cultural competency is that of a cultural immersion experience. It has been demonstrated that cultural immersion pro- grammes have an effect on the cultural competence of participants (DeDee & Stewart, 2003; Evanson & Zust, 2006). Describing the lived experience of nursing students engaged in a cultural immersion experience will help to discern how the interna- tional nursing experience affects the cultural com- petence of undergraduate nursing students, thereby defining and articulating a method that can be rep- licated in other health education institutions.

The purpose of this study was to describe the lived experience of a group of third year undergraduate nurs- ing students from an Australian university who partici- pated in a 5-week cultural immersion programme in India. The students wrote reflective journals during their experience and after they returned home, the journals were used as a data source for this study.

Research that analyses the students' lived experi- ence through discussion, interviews, or journaling is still sparse, especially in the Australian context. A literature review conducted by Kokko (2011), demonstrates that study abroad experiences can be beneficial in moving nurses towards cultural com- petence, however, further exploration of the lived experience is needed to gain a deeper understand- ing of how this learning occurs. Edmonds (2012) calls for further diversity in research, and Kulbok, Mitchell, Glick, and Greiner (2012) indicate that institutions need to examine how their pro- grammes effect their partner institutions. In order to effectively define the process, experiences need to be examined in many different areas to deter- mine transferability. As yet, no studies have exam- ined the lived experience of Australian students in a cultural immersion programme. This study explores the meaning of cultural immersion for a group of Australian nursing students in India.

Literature review

The literature available regarding cultural immer- sion experiences is not limited to nursing students or even to health care. There have been studies on cultural immersion experiences among teachers (Vaughan, 2005), social workers (Fairchild, Pillai, & Noble, 2006; Larson & Allen, 2006), and med- ical students (Dowell, Cramp ton, & Parkin, 2001; Sidelinger et al., 2005). For the purposes of this study, however, only cultural immersion experi- ences amongst nurses were used. These articles can be divided into two groups: Those that describe the process of development and implementation of cultural immersion experiences (Bentley & Ellison, 2007; Grant & McKenna, 2003; Larsen & Reif, 2011; Mkandawire-Valhmu & Doering, 2012; Ryan & Twibell, 2002; Tremethick & Smit, 2009; Warner, 2002) and those that describe the experiences of students and faculty during a cul- tural immersion experience (Anders, 2001; Bond & Jones, 1994; Brennan & Schulze, 2004; Evanson & Zust, 2004; Gilboy & Bill, 2011; Harrison & Malone, 2004; Heuer, Russell, & Kahlstorf, 1997; Hinck & Hope, 2006; Johns & Thompson, 2010; Larson, Ott, & Miles, 2010; Maltby & Abrams, 2009; Newson, 2009; Ruddock & Turner, 2007; Sandin, Grahn, & Kronvall, 2004; Walsh & De Joseph, 2003; Wood & Atkins, 2006). …

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