Student voice

Could overseas communication improve cultural differences in healthcare?

Hearing about nursing practice from students who have travelled abroad has left Chris Steele wanting to know more

Hearing about nursing practice from students who have travelled abroad has left Chris Steele wanting to know more


Global communication can provide new perspectives on healthcare practice
​​​Picture: iStock

Nursing students can give and receive inspiration, knowledge, and cultural understanding by coming together, and communicating with their overseas counterparts.

Some of my academic colleagues had the opportunity recently to travel to nursing schools in China and India. After hearing about their experiences, I wanted to find out more.

End of life care in China

Colleagues who visited Harbin Medical University in Heilongjiang province, China, expressed with passion, how end of life care was treated with much dignity, even in busy emergency departments, where they have purpose-built patient and family rooms for loved ones to take part in cultural rituals.

In addition, they explained the importance of herbal and holistic therapies being used as primary and complementary treatments, and how the cultural differences have made them pivotal in Chinese healthcare.

In comparison, my colleagues also considered how patients with learning disabilities are not given the same level of support or enablement in their care in China as in the UK. The UK students delivered a passionate presentation to their Chinese counterparts about the understanding, recognition, and empowerment of patients with learning disabilities, which was well received.

'In the UK we have specific frameworks for palliative and end of life care – but in India there are no formal policies'

Following a colleague's academic visit to India, communication began between nursing students from Manipal College of Nursing and myself. The discovery that here in the UK we have specific frameworks for palliative and end of life care – but in India there are no formal policies – has led the students I have spoken with to research this area in more depth throughout their studies.

Stronger global communication should be encouraged

Nursing schools globally should aim to achieve stronger communication networks with each other. This will allow students to learn about cultural healthcare differences, as well as give and share knowledge that can enhance and improve practices in healthcare.


About the author

Chris Steele is a third-year children’s nursing student at Edge Hill University, Lancashire

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