Developing Students to Influence Global Healthcare

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Sharon K. Byrne, DrNP, APN, NP-C, AOCNP, CNE
School of Nursing, Health, and Exercise Science, The College of New Jersey, Ewing, NJ, USA

The popularity of global health study abroad experiences has skyrocketed. While these immersions offer students the opportunity to learn and deliver healthcare under the auspicious of faculty or programs, they are not without risks to the host country. One college developed an academic-NGO partnership to promote sustainability and capacity building in its’ outreach within a host country while at the same time develop nursing students to influence global healthcare. An experienced faculty member who volunteered with the NGO developed a Perspectives in Global Health course in consultation with the colleges’ Center for Global Engagement, Liberal Learning Program Council and a Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Social Sciences with expertise in Environmental Ethics, Ethical Theory and Human Rights in International Relations which strengthened the nursing departments’ curriculum.

Design: Prior to travel, students take the above elective course in an on-line synchronous and asynchronous format where they are exposed to ethical reasoning, philosophical views related to the human right to health and international humanitarian health law. The nature and source of a variety of global health issues are viewed through this lens and applied to case studies, dialogs and other modes of learning. Emphasis is placed on preparing the nursing students to engage in global health to improve access and quality of care for vulnerable patients and address health issues using a patient, community-centered, culturally sensitive model of care. Students participate in a pre-departure orientation by the faculty member and the partnering NGO representative to review the cultural implications of the country they will visit as well as address safety and travel ramifications. Advocacy, prevention and health promotion, and inter-professional collaboration are part of the focus during a week-long study abroad experience. The course expressly asks students to demonstrate the ability to identify philosophical issues that may arise in the context of delivery of healthcare from both a primary care and public health perspective which requires investigation, understanding, evaluation and reflection.

Conclusion: Meeting course and study abroad objectives will make a valuable contribution to nursing students’ personal development of cultural humility which is a keystone of a liberal education, promote professional development in primary care and public health as well as meet the needs of a global community served through a sustainable partnership.