Thursday, July 12, 2007
This presentation is part of : In Giving We Receive: Community Engagement of Nursing Students with Culturally Diverse Populations
Promoting Cultural Competence Through Community Engagement: Immersion of Graduate Nursing Students in a Culturally Diverse Setting to Promote Health Literacy
Lisa Schnepper, PhD(c), RN, FNP, Department of Nursing, Winona State University, Rochester, MN, USA

As diversity in the United States population continues to grow, the need for culturally competent nurses is evident. Greater understanding of cultural differences is needed. Immersion of graduate nursing students in culturally diverse groups offers greater opportunities than classroom instruction for appreciation of diversity.

Design: Phenomenological study

Population, Sample, Setting: A mid-western master’s program in nursing partnered with an adult and family literacy program serving primarily an immigrant and refugee population facing a variety of unmet health needs and inadequate resources. Graduate nursing students (n = 30) with a wide range of nursing experiences, provided health promotion education to the adult learners in the literacy program.

Methods: Qualitative data were collected through classroom discussions and informal interviews about student perceptions regarding experiences with underserved populations before and after student immersion in a culturally diverse adult and family literacy program. In addition, video tapes of graduate nursing student presentations of their health promotion education experiences were also reviewed for common themes. Themes were clustered for meanings and relationships.

Findings:  Graduate students have provided health care to culturally diverse populations over many years of nursing practice. Initially, students expressed frustrations with the underserved and diverse populations “not trying” to access health care appropriately and failure to follow health recommendations. After the immersion experience, feelings of respect and appreciation emerged for the efforts and challenges these populations’ encounter.  One student with more than 30 years in nursing summarized the experience stating, “It has changed my practice.” 

Conclusions: The immersion of graduate nursing students in a culturally diverse setting outside the health care arena provides greater insights and appreciation of different cultures. Data suggest this translates into improved culturally competent health care. Further research in this area is needed.