DOI: 10.5176/2315-4330_WNC15.69

Authors: Sheila Cunningham


Placement learning in the United Kingdom (UK) accounts for 50{6e6090cdd558c53a8bc18225ef4499fead9160abd3419ad4f137e902b483c465} of the educational experience for pre-registration nursing students and holds considerable benefits [1]. Moreover the need to develop global health practitioners is increasingly important and thus means such as European exchanges potentially enhances development of cultural competence and international perspectives on practice. There are other beneficial dimensions such as personal and emotional effects too. Critics of exchanges [2] report students cite ‘disintegration’ and dependence problems. However, Button et al [3] assert positive aspects: cultural difference, comparison of healthcare systems, care practices, personal development and enhanced critical perspectives. Many universities are embracing exchange opportunities but this remains challenging for nursing students in an already full and restricted course. However, the question emerges as to what are the personal and professional meanings for students of participating in such exchanges and if exchanges can add an ‘extra’ dimensions to pre-registration education for all students. Placement and theory can create challenges to nursing exchanges, however experiences at on institution with specific European degree nursing programmes and Erasmus exchanges points to professional benefits and positively contributes to the wider ‘Leuven 20/2020’ target of increasing European student mobility [4]. Nursing education has evolved over the last decade but some European areas are still evolving to align with Bologna cycles. Nursing students enter varied settings on European exchange. Adopting a mixed methods approach (akin to bricolage) [5,6] of existing documents and evaluative processes (Nominal group technique) students’ experiences were analysed and resultant distilled narratives revealed a professional journey which was, at times, both turbulent and enriching detailing evolving awareness of global health and diverse care concepts. Individual student narratives varied considerably but there were some common ‘themes’: all had challenges, all had points of ‘crisis’ and all reported ‘surprise’ at nursing being similar yet also different. Cultural and adjustment for all reflected variations of the W-curve of adjustment [7] with some more acute than others though not seemingly incapacitating them or evolving into ‘culture shock’. Outgoing UK students report improved confidence, independence, expanding skills, reconceptualization of the ‘essence’ of care and communication. Incoming European students however report surprise at multidisciplinary relationships and interactions, ethnic diversity (London), expanded nursing roles and patents negotiating care. When asked ‘what else’ it appears unclear or simply a feeling at the end of ‘being different’ reflecting perhaps a liminal state of developing or becoming. This study contributes locally and nationally to the body of literature on meaning and participating in European (and international) nursing exchanges and the implications for curriculum planning and refinement of such exchanges. Also how they can be maximised to contribute to global health awareness and culturally focussed nursing practice.

Keywords: European placements, Professional transitions, Global perspectives on healthcare, Lifelong learning

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