Exploring the Impact of a Medical Mission Trip on Graduate Nurse Practice Perceptions, Ideals and Practice Implementation

Monday, 9 November 2015

Cindy Ford, PhD, MSN, BSN, RN, CNE
Brenda Kinning, BSN, RN
Amanda C. Raymundo, BSN, RN
Charalene Ruble, MSN, BSN, RN
Department of Nursing, Lubbock Christian University, Lubbock, TX, USA

There is little debate about the significance of nursing educational experiences to promote cultural understanding as the population requiring care becomes increasingly diverse. Faculty are aware of the study abroad research results yielding positive learning outcomes such as participants reporting increased understanding of other cultures and a commitment to being a positive force for improvement of healthcare abroad and in their own community (Saenz & Holcomb, 2009); gains in substantive knowledge, changes in values and communication skills (Carpenter & Garcia, 2012) and increased understanding as well as uncomfortable, lingering, unsettled feelings resulting from awareness of inequities in resources (Evanson & Zust, 2006). Study abroad is one way to broaden American nursing students’ worldview, but accommodating a study abroad course into a nursing curriculum can prove challenging.

One graduate nursing program faculty group felt so strongly about the importance/outcomes of some type cultural immersion trip, the faculty placed a global culture and health course within the required graduate curriculum. A recent medical mission trip to Honduras was the setting for this exploratory/qualitative study. After university exempted IRB approval (educational research), the collection of data included formative narrative journaling throughout the trip, a summative qualitative evaluation of the trip experiences and completion of the Go Culture Assessment (Dodd, 2013). The assessment tool is an online selection tool forecasting cultural performance, relationships, cultural adaptation, leadership development in relocation and personal development. The tool identifies 16 cultural engagement factors to help determine strengths and areas of need.

Data analysis from all data collected sources will contribute to the understanding of graduate nurse outcomes from the lived experience of the medical mission trip to Honduras. Results can be utilized for pre-trip educational planning and student participant preparation for cultural immersion in a country outside the United States. Further, it is believed the study outcomes will support nursing faculty to persist in the provision of cultural experiences for students in the face of challenges and barriers for implementation of international cultural immersion trips.