Nursing as a profession is undergoing a significant transformation around the world (Padgett, 2013). Governing agencies are moving toward more formal professional standards, educational curriculums are becoming refined, and students are transitioning into a new professional paradigm for nursing practice. In addition, professional bodies are encouraging more collaboration between training institutions. The International Council of Nurses recommends the development of strong networks between nursing and non-nursing training institutions (ICN, 2012). The U.S. Institute of Medicine Committee on the Future of Nursing emphasizes the need for sustainable “global knowledge networks” and an open exchange of tools and resources (IOM, 2011).
In addition to the changes occuring in the nursing profession around the globe, healthcare is transforming in many ways due to major shifts in policy and practice. Now more than ever, there is a need for a well prepared and committed workforce of nursing professionals dedicated to serving the complex needs of marginalized and underserved communities through interprofessional efforts. This next generation of health service providers must be nurtured through clean and concerted channels of nursing education.
With the intent of further describing the key components that connect nursing students in cross-cultural service learning experiences, collaboration between a U.S. nursing school, Peruvian university and international non-governmental organization was formed (Keogh & Russel-Roberts, 2009). A team of inter-disciplinary academics and healthcare professionals designed and implemented a community based research study to evaluate the impact of cultural exchange and shared learning experiences toward perceptions of nursing.
Prior to undertaking the formative 2-year research, a systematic literature review of international experiences in nursing education was conducted. The study included a mixed methods design and anonymized data collection and formative evaluation. Students enrolled into the study completed pre-January term and post-experience surveys. The surveys provided a baseline level of assessment and allowed for comparative analysis post intervention (i.e., in-country cultural exchanges, shared nursing clinical practicums, and academic lectures).
Through a mixed method, community based participatory study; the authors identified key characteristics of nursing students from two differing cultures and collated critical measures that demonstrated career preferences for working with underserved and marginalized communities. As the research is still underway, the authors plan to present information at the conference related to the formation of the collaborative alliance and lessons in implementation of the cross-cultural learning exchange. This workshop will highlight ways that other nursing schools can develop global exchange projects focused on service learning to advance the preparation of nursing professionals for working with underserved communities.
Students are key to the success of the nursing profession (Gilmour, 2007). Engaging nursing students in opportunities where they can exchange ideas and knowledge about cultural, practice and perceptions is key to building a professional workforce capable of leading health service programs into the future. The authors believe the future of nursing education will involve more community based, cross cultural learning experiences that bring student learners together to share their passion for the nursing profession and builds alliances for on-going practice.