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Culture, courage and compassion: exploring the experience of student nurses on placement abroad

Adamson, Elizabeth



Nursing is emotional work and learning how to manage their emotions is a valuable part of nurse education. As the workforce becomes increasingly mobile nurses will care for people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. The development of cultural competence and a global mind-set is therefore a valuable asset and engagement in study abroad through overseas clinical placement can help to facilitate this. This study set out to explore the experience of student nurses involved in an exchange programme between Scotland and Western Australia. A particular focus was on the emotional aspects of the experience, responding to challenges and provision of care in a different healthcare setting.
A descriptive qualitative strategy of enquiry was used and semi structured interviews undertaken with a sample of 10 student nurses using emotional touch points. The interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim and subjected to thematic analysis using NVIVO 11.
Five main themes were identified. Making it happen, connections, feeling vulnerable, culture and assertiveness and affirmation.
This study makes a unique contribution to the nursing student experience of overseas placement as it focuses on the emotional elements. The study shows that the experience of care delivery in an overseas placement has many benefits but also challenges. Management of emotion is required and transition to a different healthcare system can be stressful. Cultural differences were more marked than anticipated but when students responded by questioning, respectful assertiveness and provision of compassionate care there were clear rewards. These manifested as a sense that caring is a privilege and affirmation of career choice.


Adamson, E. (2018). Culture, courage and compassion: exploring the experience of student nurses on placement abroad. Journal of Compassionate Health Care, 5(1),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 6, 2018
Online Publication Date Mar 15, 2018
Publication Date 2018-12
Deposit Date Mar 26, 2018
Publicly Available Date Mar 26, 2018
Journal Journal of Compassionate Health Care
Publisher BMC
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 5
Issue 1
Keywords Student nurses, International exchange, Culture, Compassionate care, Emotional labour
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Culture, courage and compassion: exploring the experience of student nurses on placement abroad (399 Kb)

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This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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