257521 Transformative events while studying public health nursing in a developing nation

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sarah E. Abrams, PhD, RN , Department of Nursing, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
Hendrika Maltby, PhD, RN , Nursing, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
Nurse educators have become increasingly focused on the development of intercultural proficiency among nursing students who engage in experiential learning during study abroad programs. While current literature is almost universally positive with respect to the potential for meaningful cross-cultural exchange, questions remain about what makes specific experiences and events transformational during these study abroad courses. Existing assessment tools may not help educators understand which experiences are most meaningful in changing students' lives or future clinical practices. Two parallel sections of the same senior level nursing course were offered to students willing to travel abroad to either Bangladesh or Uganda to learn the skills of public health nursing and selected aspects of global public health. Although there are unique activities and foci for each country, all students were required to write reflective journals and discuss concerns. Comparative analysis of student journals over a two-year period provides insight into the process of cultural immersion, engagement, and re-entry into the home country, as well as into the features of each setting that facilitate or inhibit transformational learning. Students identified circumstances in which they felt either empowered and useful, or powerless and frustrated as 'life-changing'. Recognition of their limitations as change agents had a temporarily dampening impact on their sense of self efficacy. Lack of language proficiency was seen as a barrier. Nurse educators may want to structure experiences that challenge students' self-conceptions and encourage them to stretch beyond their capacities, while acknowledging their potential for continued growth.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related nursing

Learning Objectives:
Differentiate nursing students' transformative experiences abroad from those that primarily increase awareness and knowledge about a culture or country. Evaluate short-term study abroad plans to facilitate transformation of students' perceptions self and others.

Keywords: Cultural Competency, Nursing Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am one of the two faculty who designed the course and evaluation to be presented. I am associate dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences and engage in educational evaluation as well as public health nursing. I am co-editor of the journal Public Health Nursing.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.