Promoting Interprofessional Collaboration, Global Health Awareness and Leadership Skills through International Service-Learning

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Janice E. Hawkins, MSN, BSN, RN
Chrisitine A. Sump, MSN, BSN, RN, CNE
School of Nursing, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, USA

International service-learning programs offer a unique opportunity to incorporate interprofessional education and global health awareness into health science curriculums.  Through service activities, students develop leadership skills and collaborative team approaches to promote the health of diverse populations.  Appreciation, respect, integration of knowledge, and communication between multiple disciplines are crucial components of international health care teams and desired outcomes for health science students.  Graduates of health science programs must have the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values that prepare them to be “collaborative practice-ready” for the healthcare workforce.  According to the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC), interprofessional service-learning experiences and global health knowledge prepares students for collaborative practice environments and population focused health promotion. Since effective global health initiatives rely on partnerships and the collaboration of diverse healthcare team members, it is prudent to implement a multidisciplinary approach to global health education and international service-learning experiences.

International service learning programs increase awareness of disparities in healthcare and prepare providers to improve the health of vulnerable populations both at home and abroad. Successful study abroad programs require thoughtful preparation and planning to ensure best practices in service-learning, maximize attainment of program outcomes, and minimize potential risks to students and international partners. Development of a global health study abroad service-learning course for health science students requires careful consideration of interprofessional competencies, learning activities, and evaluative criteria that are relevant to all majors. In addition to formulating appropriate didactic content, course developers must overcome logistical obstacles of multiple schedules and multiple levels of students. Universal topics such as cultural sensitivity, health disparities, ethics, values, communication, and teamwork can all be incorporated into the course framework.

Nurse educators will leave the presentation with the tools to build an international study abroad program that incorporates interprofessional competencies, global health awareness and leadership promotion into didactic content, cultural immersion experiences, and service learning projects. Nursing faculty will share their perspectives on overcoming the challenges of developing a single program for multiple disciplines at both the undergraduate and graduate level. The faculty will provide a blueprint of an international service-learning study abroad program designed to meet core competencies of nursing, dental hygiene, physical therapy and community health students. Tips for multidisciplinary integration in course development, including assessing and encouraging faculty buy-in, will be built into the presentation.