Transformational Learning in Health Care Students through International Service in Developing World Environments Open Access
Transformational Learning in Health Care StudentsThrough International Service in Developing World EnvironmentsHealth care and health care education are in dynamic transition in attempting to address the increasing demands of a diverse global population across a widening gap in health resource constraints. Health care students must be prepared to care for a much wider patient population across a diverse spectrum of cultures, economics, and technologic facilities with resourceful approaches. Individual students and practitioners of the healing arts, and the educational system that supports them, should undergo transformational learning to address these new realities in expanding paradigms of health and health care.This study was designed to observe health care students and practitioners in the setting of international medical missions in the developing world. Almost all of the participants reported changes characteristic of transformational learning brought about through encounters with developing world patients, and most qualified these changes in both perceptions and practices as profound, life-changing experiences. These reported changes were measured with a previously validated quantitative instrument, Perceptions of an International Healthcare Mission Questionnaire, with responses correlated with demographics and answers to semistructured qualitative questions in essays and follow-up interviews. On the basis of these positive findings, it can be recommended that the opportunity of international health care missions be made more widely available for students. The students themselves benefit, as well as the developing world patients who receive care. These very patients appear to be the agents of the transformational learning experience. Institutionalization of medical mission opportunities would enhance health care education by providing the transformational kind of learning that is needed to address the diverse demands required in reforming global health care.
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