Long-Term Learning in a Short-Term Study Abroad Program: "Are We Really Truly Helping the Community?"

Penelope Caldwell, Mary Anne Purtzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Objective: To discover long-term learning outcomes in a short-term study abroad program. Students worked directly with community members to identify health issues, implement educational workshops addressing those issues, and evaluate health outcomes. Design and Sample: This is a qualitative, descriptive study. Thematic analysis was conducted using a written questionnaire completed one or more years postimmersion. The sample was 41 nursing students who participated in a 10-day immersion experience in remote Honduras. Results: Four themes emerged revealing evidence of long-term learning. Three of these themes, Embracing Other, Gaining Cultural Competencies, and Experiencing an Ethnocentric Shift, are supported in the literature. The fourth theme, Negotiating Ethical Dilemmas, offers a new finding. Conclusion: Although educators have questioned ethical consequences of study abroad programs, there is a paucity of literature indicating that students are the ones doing the questioning. Implications for educators and community members alike include facilitating dialog about collective worldviews related to global health ethics when designing study abroad programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)577-583
Number of pages7
JournalPublic Health Nursing
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


  • Ethics
  • Global health
  • Public health nursing education
  • Qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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