VANCOUVER – With the current climate of increased immigration to Canada, nurses are faced with challenges of providing care to culturally diverse communities. Therefore, it is utmost important that they have the skills and knowledge in order to provide culturally appropriate, sensitive and safe care. Keeping in accordance with this concept the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA, 2008) has identified fostering global social responsibility in nursing education as a priority.
International Practice Experiences (IPE) are viewed as a necessary component of nursing education. As well these experiences are considered to be a student focused and highly effective, method of experiential learning. CNA (2008) states, in comparison to other ways of teaching, international immersion experiences produces the greatest results in teaching global values.Therefore, it is important that students understand global health issues and have opportunities to apply their theory to practice. Furthermore, IPE should strive to ensure it is sustainable and reciprocal in nature to avoid the perception of exploitation or Nursing Tourism. Royal Institute of Nursing (RIN) has made a strong commitment to advancing nursing education in India by developing partnerships with two educational institutes in British Columbia, University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO) and Langara College School of Nursing. The Royal Institute of Nursing is managed by the Global Education and Charitable Trust. It is located in a rural farming community about 15 minutes from the town of Batala Punjab India.
The main purpose of this partnership is to promote international nursing educational experience and relationship, to foster the development of nursing education between the Royal Institute of Nursing (RIN) and the 2 schools of nursing in BC. These schools will assist RIN with faculty & Curriculum development through faculty exchange. In addition, RIN management is very passionate about providing quality nursing education to their students and had committed to starting a student exchange as well. The student exchange was developed in accordance with tenets of collective, collegial practice that will not just provide a rich and diverse practice experience for our students, but will also seek to advance nursing education through establishing a shared understanding of, and then building on, concepts of global citizenry, community service and careful consideration of cultural context. It is hoped that this Student Exchange Program will be a good learning experience for the students of both the institutions. RIN students gained knowledge and skills from having the Langara students and faculty spent 6 weeks at RIN from Jan to Feb 2013 which provided both institution s with a very rich nursing experience. Since mid-March 3 nursing students and a faculty member had been at UBCO where they have attended classes, worked in the stimulation lab and visited many hospitals to gain knowledge and skills related to western health care system. When asked if the cost of this experience was worth it, the students commented “absolutely, I have learnt so much. Not only about nursing but also about the culture”, another student said,” for me, seeing the interaction between students and teachers was an eye opener. Here students and teachers are respectful and friendly which results in a positive learning.” The vice primary Rajwant Bajwa stated “This has been an excellent experience for us. In particular the use of technology such as the stimulation lab for teaching purposes was something new. We do not have this ability so far. I personally leant a lot about teaching methods which I will utilize on return to RIN”. She said all this would not been possible without the support of so many people both in Punjab and Vancouver.
These students are currently in Vancouver and have had opportunity to visit with Langara students and administration. They are now trying to do some sightseeing and relax before they return to India on April 21st. These students will take new learned skills back to Punjab and will be able to apply these to the care they provide. In addition, through social networking between students resulted in Indian students enriching their English Language skills, communication skills, as well as personal development. It is hoped that this international experience will enhance their lives as well the lives of their communities.
Our hope is that many more nursing students from Punjab will be able to participate in this exchange program in the future.