Aim. This paper is a report of a study to explore the phenomenon of empowerment cross-culturally by comparing the situations in which nursing students from the United Kingdom and Japan experienced empowerment and disempowerment in clinical practice.
Background. Empowerment has been the focus of many studies, but most focus on the experience of Registered Nurses and few have explored the phenomenon cross-culturally.
Method. This was a cross-cultural, comparative study using the critical incident technique. Anonymous written data were collected from nursing students in Japan and United Kingdom between November 2005 and January 2006. Japanese data were translated and back-translated. Analysis of the transcripts revealed three themes: Learning in Practice, Team Membership, Power.
Findings. Nursing students in these countries are exposed to different educational and clinical environments, but their experiences of empowerment and disempowerment are similar. For both, learning in practice, team membership and power are associated with either empowerment or disempowerment; depending on the context. United Kingdom students are aware of the importance of acting as patient advocates, although they cannot always find the voice to perform this. Japanese students however, appear to be unaware of the concept of advocacy.
Conclusion. Student nurse empowerment may transcend cultural differences, and learning in practice, team membership and power may be important for the empowerment of nursing students globally. Further cross-cultural exploration is required into the association between advocacy and empowerment.