Friday, July 13, 2007
This presentation is part of : Global Initiatives in Nursing Education
The impact of the study-abroad experience on student nurses
Linda Johanson, RN, EdD, Division of Nursing, Lenoir-Rhyne College, Hickory, NC, USA
Learning Objective #1: The learner will be able to identify the impact of a study-abroad experience on a select group of nursing students
Learning Objective #2: The learner will be able to appreciate potential professional and cultural benefits that could be derived from study-abroad experiences in schools of nursing.

In order to asses the impact of the study abroad experience on student nurses a journal review was conducted of three separate groups of junior baccalaureate nursing students from a small Christian College in North Carolina who completed a three-credit hour nursing course in Merida, Mexico. Each May for three years a different group of eleven to twelve student nurses participated in a 10-day elective nursing course designed to expose them to the Mexican culture and health care system. During the ten days the students toured different health care facilities, an orphanage, the University of the Yucatan Nursing School, and attended several cultural events such as a Mexican marketplace and festival, and explored Mayan ruins. They also conducted several service projects for the local Mexican community. Prior to embarking on the trips students wrote a pre-trip essay expressing anticipated expectations and current perceptions of the Mexican culture. During and after the trip they wrote daily impressions in a journal. The thirty-four journals were summarized regarding pre-trip expectations of the culture, changes in perceptions after completing the trip, impressions of the Mexican health care system, perceived personal and professional value of study abroad experience, and overall evaluation of this type of experience for student nurses. Results of the analysis indicated that most students held stereotyped and sometimes inaccurate impressions of the Mexican culture prior to studying abroad which were corrected by studying in the country. All gained new insights about the Mexican healthcare system. A theme that permeated the journals was that this experience humbled them and made them feel good because of helping others through service work. A major perception was that they felt this experience would make them more culturally sensitive when caring for Hispanic clients in the US.