Long-Term Impact of Study Abroad Programs for Graduate Nursing Students

Monday, 30 July 2012

Michelle L. Edmonds, PhD, ARNP-BC, CEN, CNE
School of Nursing, Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, FL

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to verbalize 2 long-term personal benefits of study abroad programs for graduate nursing students.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to verbalize 2 long-term professional benefits of study abroad programs for graduate nursing students.

Purpose: Study abroad programs tailored for nursing students have gained momentum in the last two decades.  Much of the existing literature on this phenomenon involves undergraduate nursing students.  The purpose of this pilot study was to explore the long-term impact of study abroad programs for graduate nursing students who are currently practicing as Registered Nurses. 

Methods: Ten graduate nursing students completed a study abroad nursing program in the spring 2011 semester entitled “Advanced Nursing Practice in the United Kingdom.”  Assignments included presentations on advanced practice nursing roles within the National Health System, literature reviews on research published in the UK, and papers comparing the National Health System with the American healthcare system.  Finally, all students completed a travel journal during a one-week study tour in England including some observation of advanced practice nurses in clinical settings.  Students were then asked to complete Zorn’s (1996) International Educational Survey (IES) regarding the long-term impact of the study abroad course on their personal and professional development as nurses. 

Results: The ten participants reported positive growth and development in their personal and professional lives as a result of the study abroad program seven months prior.  Furthermore, they indicated that this was a more effective and enjoyable teaching strategy by which to learn about advanced nursing practice and the healthcare system in the United Kingdom as opposed to traditional didactic lecture. 

Conclusion: Implications from this study lend credibility to the continued use of study abroad as a teaching strategy for topics in graduate nursing education.