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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 32  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 136-140

Bridging the Atlantic: Optimizing the health of vulnerable community aggregates through international student exchange

1 Community Department, University of Massachusetts, College of Nursing and Health Sciences, N. Dartmouth, MA, USA
2 Department of Nursing, University of the Azores School of Health, Ponta Delgada, Portugal, Portuga

Correspondence Address:
Maryellen D Brisbois
University of Massachusetts, College of Nursing and Health Sciences, 285 Old Westport Road, N. Dartmouth, MA 02747
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/efh.EfH_268_19

Background: A growing diversity of cultures globally has intensified the need to educate health professionals to deliver safe, effective, and culturally appropriate care. Collaboration among global partners and development of cultural competence in nursing students in distant communities is one pedagogy to address competencies. Context: Universities in the United States (US) and Portugal established a bi-directional student exchange to foster professional relationships, enhance cultural awareness, identify health and health care roles from a global perspective, and explore collaborative research opportunities to address the health needs of vulnerable aggregates in both countries. Activities: Students from each country are paired to work collaboratively with faculty on research or health promotion projects, visit health care facilities, participate in university classes, language instruction, visit cultural and points of interest, and disseminate new knowledge. Outcomes: Students expressed an understanding of cultural differences and health care systems, reconsidered the role of community nurse, integrated theory into practice, and experienced peer mutual learning. A framework to organize philosophies related to a student exchange was developed. Future Directions: Forthcoming student exchanges are being planned. Work in previous exchanges allows for sustainability and a growing body of research and health promotion activities focused on impacting vulnerability in like communities in different countries. Conclusions: A shared vision of exchange, student involvement, multi inter-institutional research, perceived relevance of work with vulnerable groups, and improved ties between local and international community agencies allows for project sustainability. Student exchanges with vulnerable groups in communities provide a catalyst to promote heightened awareness of these aggregates.

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