Thursday, July 12, 2007
This presentation is part of : In Giving We Receive: Community Engagement of Nursing Students with Culturally Diverse Populations
Breaking Down Biases and Changing Perceptions: Impact of Immersion in a Culturally Diverse Setting on Undergraduate Nursing Students:
Kathy Orth, MS, RN, College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Winona State University, Rochester, MN, USA

In an attempt to provide an enhanced community clinical experience, a community engagement approach was utilized immersing nursing students in one of the following community populations: adult immigrants and refugees; at risk children and teens in a school setting; high-risk families with young children; at-risk pregnant women in the community; and vulnerable elderly living independently in residential settings.   Based on assessment of the community, students developed interventions and delivered health promotion and education to address the unmet needs of these diverse and often disadvantaged clients.  Using this model, both students and community members benefit.

Senior baccalaureate nursing students (n = 102) from a mid-western university participated in a study using a mixed methods design.  The descriptive study employed a five group, non-randomized, pre-post test design to examine factors which promoted cultural competence, civic responsibility, community engagement, and knowledge of public health nursing  Qualitative data gathered through reflective portfolios, open-ended questionnaires and focus groups were analyzed by identifying common themes. 

Analyses indicated there were significant improvements in students’ knowledge and skills after immersion in their diverse community.  Positive changes occurred in attitudes, perceptions with a concomitant decline in self-reported biases.  Additionally, students’ self reported confidence as a culturally competent caregiver increased significantly.  Moreover, qualitative data indicated students reported increased satisfaction from working with culturally diverse and underserved populations; they gained a broader perspective of issues immigrant and refugee populations face; and they also  voiced an increased openness to diversity.  Students articulated the challenges and frustrations as well as the benefits they experienced when working with individuals from culturally diverse backgrounds.

Providing health promotion and education to diverse populations through immersion in a service learning, community engagement project is an effective educational strategy benefiting both diverse community populations and baccalaureate nursing students.