Nursing Education in the USA

Quality health care is an issue of concern worldwide and Nursing can and must play a major and global role in transforming the healthcare environment.

To this end, many international nurses are being sponsored by their governments to attend educational programs in the United States to prepare them to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.

Nursing Education in the USA

In order to be active participants in challenging health care outcomes, nurses need to develop expanded knowledge, skills and strategies to enhance nursing practice in an evolving world.

The knowledge and skills include being able to identify and articulate nurse’s values within the sociocultural, economic and political environments of their native countries, and being able to demonstrate the outcomes and cost effectiveness of nursing’s activities to improve health outcomes.

Advanced nursing education for international students may include a variety of educational models. For students who have experienced technical training in their own countries, advanced education may mean earning the baccalaureate or initial university degree in nursing.

A number of program options exist, including traditional baccalaureate programs, accelerated programs for students with a baccalaureate degree in another discipline, and RN-BSN and RN-MSN completion programs.

Master’s education programs in nursing generally have a clinical focus such as emergency nursing, maternal-child health, or midwifery. Doctoral education in nursing in the United States involves completion of a structured curriculum and a dissertation study, unlike the tutorial model found in European universities.

At the doctoral level, the program of studies includes content related to nursing science, research, educational strategies and outcomes evaluation.

Widener University is located in Chester, Pennsylvania, adjacent to Philadelphia, an internationally recognized mecca of health care. The School of Nursing offers baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral programs in nursing and nurses from Korea, Jordan, Bahrain and Botswana have enrolled in the programs on the various levels in the past few years.

Hyrea Yoo earned a doctorate in nursing science in 1996 and has returned to Korea to provide leadership in her faculty role. This student’s research investigated the attitudes of Korean nursing students towards caring for patients with HIV.

Arwa Oweif, a faculty member at Jordan University of Science and Technology in Irbid, Jordan, is currently completing her second summer session of the summer’s only doctoral option. Arwa too will use her education to advance health care through nursing education with research interests in the area of women’s health issues.

Fatima Abdul Wahed Ahmed, a citizen of Bahrain, is currently a master’s student in the Emergency/Critical Care track having earned an International Diploma in Emergency Preparedness and Crisis Management from the World Health Organization.

Fatima has worked in critical care management and has been a Lecturer at the College of Health Sciences in Bahrain and is one of seven members of the International Council of Nurses President’s Task Force on the Future.

At Widener, in addition to courses in emergency and critical care nursing, Fatima has had the opportunity to observe first hand the emergency care systems at Crozer Chester Medical Center and the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center.

Recently, three nurses from Botswana earned their baccalaureate degrees in nursing. Chosen and sponsored by the Minister of Health of Botswana for study in the United States, Gladys Mogapi, Beauty Peloewetse and Mpho Ofithile are returning to Botswana with the dual goals of upgrading nursing education from technical to university based and of developing programs to reduce the morbidity and mortality of women in their childbearing years.

Courses such as Health Assessment, Pathophysiology/Pharmacology, Nutrition, Research in Nursing, and Community and Home Health Nursing have provided the increased knowledge and skills which they will need to effect changes in the health outcomes of women in Botswana.

It is hard for American students (and faculty too) to appreciate the level of health care and the devastating morbidity and mortality experienced by developing nations. Through first hand descriptions of real life experiences, American students become more aware of global health concerns as well as the implications of cultural values on the development of the nursing profession.

Although providing educational opportunities for international students is incredibly rewarding for the host institution and American students, such an undertaking is not without drawbacks. For the international students, multiple adaptations to climate, educational and social customs and language are required.

In addition, separation from family members, including spouses and young children, may be for extended periods of time. Educational customs and language differences are also major sources of stress. Universities involved in international education therefore require strong commitment and support services for both academic and social dimensions.

Through international educational programs in nursing, the goal of quality health care can move from dream to reality, as students are prepared to become leaders in their own countries.

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