Aim To identify the knowledge and skills pre-registration nursing and midwifery students develop whilst engaging in an overseas elective placement
Methods As a multicultural society the UK provides many opportunities to care for people from diverse backgrounds, thus, developing cultural sensitivity is an important aspect of pre-registration nurse education in the UK. To this end one of the Nursing and Midwifery Council essential skills clusters states that ‘People can trust a newly qualified graduate nurse to engage with them and their family or carers within their cultural environments in an acceptant and anti-discriminatory manner free from harassment and exploitation’.¹ It has been suggested that an overseas elective placement can assist in the development of cultural knowledge and sensitivity² although the literature addressing this issue is sparse. Given the costs an overseas elective can incur one must therefore consider the value of such a placement as it could be argued that these skills can be developed here in the UK. In beginning to address this question a reflective evaluation of the teachers facilitating the elective placements and the students who embarked on overseas elective placements to 3 African countries was carried out, with a view to identifying the wider skills and knowledge an overseas elective placement can provide for pre-registration nursing and midwifery students.
Results The on- going evaluation indicates that students were more aware of the cultural differences in both the care delivered and the healthcare systems following the placement however what was also apparent was the development of other important skills including self-awareness; communication; organisational and time management skills; risk management; reflection and decision making skills.
Conclusion Anecdotal evaluation suggests that an overseas elective, whilst costly, does provide valuable and diverse learning opportunities, beyond just the development of cultural knowledge and sensitivity, for pre-registration nursing and midwifery students. This said, further more formal evaluation and research is required.
Green BF, Johansson I, Rosser M, et al. Studying abroad: a multiple case study of nursing students international experiences. Nurse Education Today 2008;28:981–992.
Nursing and Nursing and Midwifery Council. Standards for Pre-Registration Nursing Education. London: Nursing and Midwifery Council, 2010.
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