The importance of cultural competency in the nursing profession cannot be overemphasized. Research has shown that studying abroad has a positive impact on nursing students. There are several reasons why it is important to study abroad as a nurse leader.
A study conducted in 2013 revealed that nursing students who went to study overseas as part of their degree were more likely to be employed (24 percent point more) three years after graduation compared to their counterparts who didn’t.
Doing an internship abroad spices up your CV and shows how much you are experienced in different nursing aspects. Volunteering abroad also gives a person practical experiences that may not necessarily be available at home. In the medical field, working abroad also offers students with public health topics that are often not taught back at home.
2. Cultural awareness
Although the primary goal of going abroad is to study, it also provides nursing student leaders with an opportunity to embrace new customs, traditions, and history. Students are able to learn the social, economic and political systems of the host country – making it easier for them to appreciate differences and similarities between their own and those of the host country.
Besides that, nursing students who go to developing countries are also able to appreciate the health challenges faced by vulnerable populations. They also come to understand how international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) come in to improve social equality.
Through working and interacting with other professionals, roommates, community leaders, faculty members and the locals, a nursing student has the opportunity to develop an international cadre of colleagues who may become beneficial in their future endeavors.
Besides that, studies have also emphasized the connection that exists between academic experiences and cultural competence in the field of nursing. For instance, in research conducted recently (journal of nursing Education and Practice) it was established that nursing students who studied abroad experienced a high level of appreciation and sensitivity to cross-cultural care compared to those who didn’t.
4. Personal growth
This is also another benefit of studying abroad by nurse leaders. There’s no doubt that you will learn a lot when you opt to go and study nursing abroad. If for example, you are working in a low-resource setting, you will also be able to learn how to be resilient from local staff who are accustomed to hardship.
5. Learn a new language
Being able to learn a second or third language challenges your brain and keeps it healthy. This will help you to easily communicate with patients in the country you are conducting your internship. Besides that, being conversant with the local language and culture earns you respect from the local professionals and population. It also enhances your experience as a nurse.
To be able to learn a new language means you have to be proactive. Ask questions and interact more with the local population. The benefits of knowing two or more languages other than your native language are immense in the nursing profession.
6. Cultural immersion
Nursing students who go to study abroad have the opportunity to immerse themselves in different aspects of their host country. For instance, they are able to learn about new foods, new languages, new traditions among other things.
Such immersion may come in handy if the student would want to return back in the future to pursue a nursing career. Besides, it also gives nursing students a chance to examine local determinants of health.
7. Learn what ‘nursing’ means around the world
One of the important takeaways from international internship programs is the ability of students to discover the title of ‘nurse’ in a global context. Nursing students often come to realize that the meaning or nursing at home is quite different from nursing in other parts of the world.
In general, most Universities in the United States and around the world are realizing the importance of global perspectives in nursing and other disciplines. We live in a world that is rapidly becoming interconnected and hence the need for intercultural exchange. Nurse leaders are no exception when it comes to globalization. There are immense benefits for nurse leaders who go to study outside their countries.