Rediscovering the essence of nursing: Exploring the impact of in clinical experience in Thailand for undergraduate nursing students from Australia
Cultural competence is now widely recognised as an essential characteristic for undergraduate nursing students. Clinical experience in foreign countries has become increasingly popular as a strategy to enhance cultural awareness and competence. However, published research articulating the experience and outcomes of these initiatives is relatively rare, particularly from an Australian perspective. This paper presents the findings of a qualitative, exploratory research project. Individual semi-structure interviews were conducted with eight undergraduate nursing students before, during and at the conclusion of a four week clinical placement in Surin, Thailand. Data analysis identified the following major themes: first interview – anticipation; second interview – making a difference; contrasting worlds; and part of the group; third interview — reality check and group dynamics. These findings suggest that international clinical experience has potential benefits beyond the development of cultural competence. The importance of caring in nursing and the importance of group dynamics were particularly valued by student participants.