The Impact of International Service Learning on Health Profession Students' Cultural Competence
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In this study, the Social Cognitive Theory was used as a framework to assess the impact of international service learning on health profession students' cultural competence. A purposive sample of 16 health profession students participated in a two-week international service learning trip to Central America in March of 2010. Participants worked in urban and rural areas of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, respectively, providing health care and health education to local community members. Mixed methodology was used, including pre- and post-trip survey and follow-up telephone interview. The survey addressed students' frequency and familiarity in working with individuals from other cultures. Six interview questions were created to reflect common themes found in the results of the quantitative data, and participant interviews were conducted over the telephone by the principal investigator. Results from the study indicated that international service learning positively impacted students' perceptions of cultural competence. Students who participated in the international service learning opportunity reported increased levels of confidence in working with individuals from different cultures; increased self-efficacy was a common theme resulting from the experience as well.