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Maximising intercultural learning opportunities: learning with, from and about students from different cultures

08 October 2020
Volume 29 · Issue 18


Nurses continue to experience challenges when caring for culturally diverse patients and while working with staff from different cultural, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. The widening landscape of cultural diversity in the nursing classroom provides a vehicle for intercultural learning, supporting intercultural competence development. However, students must embrace culturally diverse learning environments and maximise opportunities to learn with, from and about students from different cultural backgrounds. This requires developing the courage, curiosity and commitment to maximise all intercultural learning opportunities. Drawing on experiences of international students studying in culturally diverse classrooms, this article presents some practical suggestions for meaningfully engaging and capitalising on intercultural learning opportunities.

Healthcare organisations across the globe are seeing a widening sociocultural diversification of patients and staff, as a result of expanding global migration patterns. Culley (2014) defined this widening diversification as ‘super diversity’, highlighting the challenges nurses experience in adapting their behaviours during cross-cultural encounters with patients and staff. Evidence on declining standards of care for culturally diverse patients is mounting (Kovner et al, 2018; Markey et al, 2019a). The multifaceted challenges of working in intercultural healthcare teams are also widely reported (Andonian and Rossenblum, 2017). The role of nurse education in preparing graduates to work in culturally diverse contexts and to engage effectively with culturally diverse patients and staff is becoming increasingly important. It is vital to ensure that intercultural competence is explicitly developed in nurse education programmes and becomes the responsibility of all practising nurses. Deardorff (2006) defined intercultural competence as the ability to behave and communicate appropriately in intercultural situations and this requires understanding and respecting cultural difference.

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