Impact on Chinese nurses roles after study abroad: An exploratory study

Huixin Wu, Kathleen Spadaro, Diane F. Hunker, Debra M. Wolf


Background and objective: Studying abroad to expand professional development is growing worldwide with nurses traveling to different countries to expand their knowledge and skills. The impact a study abroad experience has on one’s professional role and personal life upon return is an important area of study. Depending on the individual and the level of support from hospital leadership, academic institutions and family, the experience could have a positive or negative impact on their professional role and personal life when returning to their home country. The objective of this study was to understand how a one-year study abroad experience impacted 1) Chinese nurses’ clinical practice, 2) their professional role, and 3) their personal life 6 months after returning home.

Methods: A 10-item 6-month post entry electronic survey using Likert scale (1 = very weak to 7 very strong) and open-ended questions was developed. 29 Chinese nurses were invited to complete the survey via email invitation. Quantitative analysis was conducted on the first 5 questions and content analysis was conducted on the remaining 5 questions.

Results: A total of 16 participants (55%) completed the survey. For the first 5 questions, a change was noted from students’ responses at program completion. For the last 5 questions, detailed examples of obstacles and challenges faced in their professional role and personal life following their return were shared.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that while studying abroad influences one’s professional role and practice initially, the influence may not be enduring as the originating culture may have a stronger impact. Hosting and visiting organizations need to prepare individuals who study abroad to transition home successfully to meet both the professional role and personal life challenges one may face.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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