Nuts and Bolts of Nursing Study Abroad: Logistics and Funding

Friday, 28 July 2017: 11:21 AM

Sondra Heaston, MS
Gaye L. Ray, MS
College of Nursing, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, USA

Purpose: There is little doubt that nursing specific study abroad experiential learning facilitates the development of cultural humility and enhances cultural awareness. A well planned study abroad should be a life changing experience for participants adding richness to their education and future careers 1. However, there are logistical and funding issues that serve as hurdles to the development of study abroad programs and student ability to participate2. This presentation will share insights and suggestions to address the hurdles encountered when planning and conducting nursing specific semester abroad programs.

Methods: A baccalaureate pre-licensure program at a large university located in the western United States has implemented a required Public and Global Health Clinical Practicum offering eleven location options from which students can choose. Among the location options are international sites including Tonga, Ecuador, Taiwan, Finland, Czech Republic, Samoa, and Ghana, and at least three domestic options working with vulnerable groups such as at risk teens, incarcerated populations, and refugees. Each option includes activities geared specifically to the population of the area and are distinct and varied. Nearly 100 students enroll in this course each spring term. Each site has two college of nursing faculty members acting as program directors who interface with in-country contacts, the college of nursing international representative, and the university international travel center, to develop the program including an itinerary and a budget.

A discussion of the role of program directors and how they navigate some of the aforementioned hurdles in preparing a nursing specific study abroad experiences will be presented. The discussion will include creating a budget, the method for determining student fees, and anticipating in-country expenses. Examples of sponsoring university financial and other support necessary for a successful program along with how we cover faculty expenses will be shared. Options for student funding will be discussed3. In addition, the process of determining how to honor student choice within the available options considering cost, time, desired to travel or stay home, and other variables will also be addressed.

Results: Successful navigation of the budgetary and logistical study abroad hurdles is key to building a well-planned nursing specific study abroad program. Student outcomes, as a result of participation, include an enhanced awareness of the influence of culture on health and healthcare systems, an increased uunderstanding of social determinants of health, a heightened ability to provide culturally appropriate care for individuals, families and groups, and an expanded appreciation of diversity.

Conclusion: Study abroad experiences benefit nursing students both personally and professionally3. Participation facilitates future nurses to enrich and heighten culturally sensitive care for growing multicultural patient populations at home4,5. While designing, planning and executing nursing specific semester abroad experiences is labor intensive and can present challenging hurdles, efforts should be taken to offer these educational opportunities to nursing students to enhance their preparation for nursing practice6.