Student Reflections on Their India Immersion Experience

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Debbie Marie Beck, PhD, MSN, MSA
Chamberlain College of Nursing, DeVry Education Group, Chicago, IL, USA
Susan E. Fletcher, EdD, MSN
Global Health Program, Chamberlain College of Nursing, St Louis, MO, USA

For decades, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) students at Chamberlain College of Nursing have participated in international service learning projects across the globe. The mission of this Global Health Education Program is to provide professional education through experiential international health care services. The belief is that optimal healthcare is best applied by prepared healthcare workers with multicultural knowledge, skills and experience. The purpose of this qualitative research was to describe pre-licensure nursing students’ perceptions of the immersion experiences in India to determine how, and in what ways, they have been transformed in this process. While study abroad programs and immersion experiences have been researched extensively in higher education (Landon, Tarrant, Rubin & Stoner, 2017; Mamat, & Rambely, 2017; Plante, Murray, & Cox, 2017; West, 2017), few studies have been conducted with a specific focus on pre-licensure nursing education programs in the United States that include diverse student representation, that are less than 3 weeks in length, and include a clinical component in the actual care of patients in India.

In this IRB approved study, students reported their experiences in journal accounts, video interviews, pre and post experience questionnaires about their two-week immersion in India. In addition, students provided insights on how the experience has influenced their thoughts about culture, care, and implications for current and future nursing practice. In order to better understand the student immersion experience, the following questions guided the investigation: (1) What are student perceptions of their immersion experience in India? (2) How do students describe the influence of their immersion experience in India in transforming: a. Their worldview? b. Personal growth? c. Understanding of culture? d. Care of patients? e. Current and future nursing practice? (3) What are the feelings that nursing students report before, during, and after their experience? The data from the written journal entries, video interviews, and responses on the pre and post experience questionnaires were used for analysis. Codes were developed from multiple sources and arranged according to themes and verified by a second reviewer (Holloway & Galvin, 2016; Holtslander, Racine, Furniss, Burles & Turner, 2012; Maxwell, 2013). The themes resulted in a rich description of the lived experiences of participants associated with the India immersion.

Students described their experiences as "life changing” and “transformational”. Students reported that the immersion experience benefitted them in a number of ways including an increased: awareness of societal inequities and injustices, understanding of culture and diversity, capacity to care for others, ability to critically think and problem solve, application of experiential knowledge, feeling of personal growth, proficiency to reflect on experiences, awareness of global health disparities, and commitment to future service and civic engagement.