Methods: Basic qualitative methods were used to conduct the data collection and analysis for this study. Undergraduate nursing students who had participated in previous study abroad experiences were recruited by email invitation. The researchers scheduled individual, one on one interviews with the nursing student participants. At the beginning of the interview, participants were provided with consent forms, and any questions were addressed. The interviews were guided by pre-set, semi-structured, open-ended questions, and were conducted in quiet areas of the participant's choice. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed, and checked for accuracy.
Results: Themes and categories of responses emerged through qualitative data analysis. Researchers initially reviewed and categorized data independently. After this, researchers discussed findings and collapsed categories. Data analysis revealed consistent patterns of responses in students. Results were shared with faculty colleagues who participate in the development and direction of study abroad programs.
Conclusion: The data revealed that students found overall that the experience served to help them better understand individuals from different cultures and different health care systems, as well as to explore different health beliefs. Students expressed a new understanding of cultures and geographic areas in which there is reduced access to high level health care and technology, but patient care needs are still met. Expecting to teach, and not to be taught, students were surprised at the ways in which they were themselves educated about other people and different cultures. Participants shared that these experiences have enabled them to create their own new world views, and will further enable them to provide health care that is more culturally sensitive and aware as future nurses. Specific recommendations will be directed for nursing education courses and programs.