International Healthcare Experiences: Caring While Learning and Learning While Caring

International Healthcare Experiences: Caring While Learning and Learning While Caring

Jon P. Wietholter (West Virginia University, USA), Renier Coetzee (University of the Western Cape, South Africa), Beth Nardella (West Virginia University, USA), Scott E. Kincaid (University of Kentucky Healthcare, USA) and Douglas Slain (West Virginia University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6915-2.ch058
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International Healthcare Experiences (IHEs) provide opportunities for students to experience healthcare in unfamiliar and sometimes challenging settings. Types of IHEs include acute care, ambulatory care, and medical missions. Students have reported multiple benefits through completion of IHEs including increased personal and professional development, increased cultural sensitivity, and increased self-awareness and self-confidence. While many benefits have been noted, there are also challenges in developing, implementing, and sustaining IHEs including financial considerations, safety concerns, and apprehensions regarding the impact the IHE is having on foreign patients and healthcare workers. Additionally, the possibility of limited sustainability of an IHE must be taken into account when evaluating its development and overall impact. This chapter's aim is to summarize the currently available literature on IHEs and to provide subjective reflections from international colleagues and students associated with IHEs connected to the authors' institutions.
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Interest in global health among health professions students has increased considerably over the past two decades. It was relatively rare for United States (US) students to study overseas until the 1960s (Bruno & Imperato, 2015). The explosion of new technology and travel modalities over the last few decades, however, has made it considerably easier to communicate and interact with people in places that were previously unreachable. Fortunately, there are growing opportunities for students in the health professions to study or train abroad. This chapter focuses on International Healthcare Experiences (IHEs) for such students from a US perspective due to the authors’ involvement with multiple US-based healthcare programs.

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