International Service Learning Experience in Ghana: Student and Faculty Global Health Leadership
Repository Posting Date2012-01-11T10:55:47Z
Author(s)King, Valerie L.
Author DetailsValerie L. King, MS
(41st Biennial Convention) Purpose: The purpose of this presentation is to discuss the process of initiating and implementing an international service learning experience for nursing students and the outcome of 3 trips to Ghana Africa. The personal and professional growth and experiences of the faculty and the students are explored via photos, vignettes and reflections on this transformational experience. Methods: The Nursing Students without Borders club at the University of Massachusetts Lowell was formed with the purpose of allowing students to have an international nursing experience. Working with a non-profit organization in Ghana the students were able to expand this experience to one of service learning where they planned and implemented interventions�that addressed�health problems in Ghana such as HIV, nutrition, water safety, hygiene, dental health, malaria and hypertension. From 2009-2011, thirty one students completed a 2-3 week journey to Ghana with a faculty member and nurse alumna of U-Mass Lowell. Each trip involved observation and participation in local health care settings and orphanages as well as planned health promotion activities in multiple rural villages in the Volta region of Ghana. Results: Students used principles of community health in the development of their projects but also experienced the challenges of living, working and delivering nursing care in a developing nation. They acquired an appreciation of the health care needs in Ghana while understanding the universality of their nursing skills no matter where they practice.� Conclusion: International service learning experiences helps to develop leadership skills in the student nurse and provides a wider frame of reference in their understanding of global health. Planning and supervising an international service learning experience also promotes advancement of leadership skills for the faculty. Experience in global health early in a student's career will inspire many to consider expanding their practice globally.