The importance of international nursing experiences

Written by Guest Contributor

International Nursing Experiences are a great way to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the nursing field and how it’s applied in different cultures and environments and there is a strong need for nurses in underdeveloped countries so participating in such an experience fills an important void.

While having a thorough understanding of medicine and its effect on the human body is importing in nursing, so is applying it to the wide variety of experiences that different people go through. It can be an enriching experience for anybody who partakes, in fact, research has shown that nurses who study abroad come back to their homes with increased confidence and great sense of cultural competence, so it is greatly beneficial to nurses of all levels who hope to improve their skills within the profession.

Below are some of the many benefits to an international nursing experience.

Understanding How One’s Environment Affects Their Health

Traveling internationally to volunteer in hospitals or homes is arguably the best way to learn about how different environments affect our health and the quality of care available in less-developed areas.

While nurses and patients in the western world have ample supply of basic human rights like access to clean water sources and sanitation equipment, those in less developed parts of the world are not always so fortunate. Creating that visual connection and shaking the hands of those who live in it can greatly enhance a person’s appreciation for the tools and experiences they typically have at home and their advantages in the health field.

Additionally, as their understanding grows, and they are made aware of the conditions in which other people are living, they can better understand how to treat illnesses common to the area. For example, people who predominantly use wood burning stones might have difficulty with their respiratory health, and seeing that in person will assist nurses and encourage them to consider these types of environmental factors when treating patients.

Awareness of Region-Specific Health Conditions

As touched on above, getting an honest, true look at the environments that others live in serves of great importance in understanding how some health conditions arise. Many diseases and illnesses are region-specific, and while it is possible to learn about them from home, it is much more effective to see them first hand.

Nurses who travel frequently will end up with a much more extensive library of region-specific conditions and illnesses than one who doesn’t, and they’ll be better prepared to treat patients with those diseases given their first-hand experience. This is greatly tied to learning about region-specific medicines and natural-plant remedies used by the region’s residents.

By meeting with local residents and learning about their cultures, nurses can gain valuable insight to effective natural remedies that thrive the region’s unique ecosystem, and gain a better understanding of medicines and treatments that are already showing some promise.

Cultural Awareness

The diverse cultures of the world make streamlining medical treatments challenging for nurses, and even more so when they lack awareness of the differences between various cultures. Without a thorough understanding of a patient’s culture, nurses may not be able to fully or competently care for them.

Some of the factors worth considering when discussing competent care include language and dietary preferences and even cultural beliefs. There may even be something physically different in some cultures genetic makeup which would be resistant to westernized pharmaceuticals, so an increased understanding in culture can go a long way in enhancing patient care. Through international nursing experiences, cultural appreciation is broadened and developed thereby creating more empathetic nurses with a better sense of judgement.

Additionally, nursing abroad encourages nurses to learn new languages which then bridges the communication gap and reduces the risk of improperly caring for a patient or offering them a treatment option that may be further destructive to their health.

Sensitivity Training

Many nurses feel more comfortable treating patients of the same culture because they’re more familiar with the types of communication they use and the level of care they are used to.

By training nurses to better assess and evaluate treatment plans to meet the needs of people of all walks of life, they are able to better create their action plans for care.

Many newly graduated nursing studies have said that they don’t feel prepared to meet multicultural demands after completing their formal education, so diving into an international nursing program is a great way to prepare them for the diverse patient group they will be caring for in the future.

What Is Gained from an International Nursing Experience

Aside from getting the opportunity to get out of their comfort zones and exploring a new part of the world, international nursing experiences greatly assist in developing highly qualified, well informed nurses and encourages them to further develop their skills and learning.

By the time a nurse has completed an international nursing experience, they will have a significantly greater understanding of new cultures, unfamiliar environments, and region-specific health conditions that they may have never been exposed to otherwise.

These skills can serve to make any nurse a more effective health care worker, regardless of where they decide to call their home. And isn’t that really what all nurses strive for?

Author bio:

Jennifer Clarke is a financial adviser with more than 4 years of experience in the healthcare area. Besides her day-time job, she writes for Healthcaresalariesguide, a website created as an alternative resource for everyone who seek information on healthcare finances.

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