Date of this Version
From Internationalizing Honors, ed. Kim Klein and Mary Kay Mulvaney (Lincoln, NE: National Collegiate Honors Council, 2020)
Despite advances in health care sciences and increased awareness of health disparities, unnecessary gaps in outcomes among vulnerable populations and a lack of adequate solutions to combat common diseases worldwide continue. Those deficiencies and the blurring of international borders have led to an increased need for health care professionals to understand health and the factors that influence it on a global scale (Wernli et al.). Nurses comprise the largest group of direct patient care providers in the world and have historically played an essential role in promoting health and improving patient outcomes regardless of the setting. The multifaceted and ever-changing healthcare landscape requires health care professionals to possess competence beyond critical thinking and technical skills that are typically included in health science curricula. Persistent increases in globalization have led to an urgent need for nursing students to understand health through a global lens (Allam and Riner 236). According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, nursing faculty are mandated to prepare nursing students to ensure they are prepared to work with diverse team members to effectively address the health care needs of patients of diverse cultures in diverse settings (“Toolkit”). In other words, nurses should be globally prepared prior to entering the workforce and have a commitment to lifelong global learning. Incorporating global learning into the already demanding health science curricula is challenging. The traditional approach of delivering lectures and giving assignments directed toward identifying cultural differences among select groups and discussing specific health topics related to certain countries is useful; however, more is needed to facilitate a broader foundational understanding of health on a global scale. Nursing programs should develop global learning opportunities to provide students with opportunities to comprehend fully the importance of understanding health in the context of our global society. Operating honors programs in nursing schools is an ideal way to prepare global nursing leaders (Lim et al. 99). Internationalizing honors nursing is beneficial in laying the foundation necessary to encourage future nursing leaders to embrace diversity, promote health, and improve patient outcomes in our global society. One strategy is to offer honors thesis options in international settings. Buckner and Holcomb previously explored international honors thesis development. They described a nursing honors experience where students collaborated and shared scholarly outcomes with nursing and health care colleagues abroad (275–87). Several students continued leadership development in international settings following graduation and are mentoring others in those processes.
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