Navajo Cultural Immersion: A Vehicle to Broaden Nursing Students' Worldview

Sunday, 17 November 2013: 2:45 PM

Cynthia L. Dowds, MS, RN, BSN, OCN
College of Nursing, Ashland University, Mansfield, OH
Sharon E. See, MSN, RNC_OB
College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Community and Global Health Dept., Ashland University, Mansfield, OH

Learning Objective 1: The learner will identify strategies for developing a faculty led immersion.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will describe coursework and immersion experiences that enhance students' cultural competence.

Cost is often a barrier to students studying abroad. Faculty identified the need for cultural experiences within the United States to provide more students opportunities to engage with diverse populations. A three credit course and one week cultural immersion experience at the Navajo Reservation in Arizona was developed to meet this need.

Undergraduate nursing students learned Culture Care Theory and cultural nursing models pre-immersion. Ongoing coursework provided students with baseline holding knowledge of the Díne people and traditional Navajo healing practices.

Prior to course development, faculty travelled to the reservation to explore opportunities and develop collaborative relationships. Student interactions with the Navajo community and individuals during the immersion were a priority.  Immersion experiences were planned at a Navajo hospital (Tséhootsooí Medical Center) and a local youth center. Exposures to the blending of Western medicine and traditional Navajo healing practices were planned with a shaman.  A Navajo led day long hike in the Canyon de Chelly was arranged to allow students to experience the natural beauty of the reservation. Faculty will discuss course development, implementation, and lessons learned during immersion experiences.