• Cross-Cultural Understanding;
  • Family Health;
  • International Research Collaboration;
  • Minority Students;
  • Research Education;
  • Student Exchange;
  • Vulnerable Populations

ANDERSON K.H., FRIEDEMANN M.L., BŰSCHER A., SANSONI J. & HODNICKI D. (2012) Immersion research education: students as catalysts in international collaboration research. International Nursing Review

Background:  This paper describes an international nursing and health research immersion program. Minority students from the USA work with an international faculty mentor in teams conducting collaborative research. The Minority Health International Research Training (MHIRT) program students become catalysts in the conduct of cross-cultural research.

Aim:  To narrow the healthcare gap for disadvantaged families in the USA and partner countries.

Methods:  Faculty from the USA, Germany, Italy, Colombia, England, Austria and Thailand formed an international research and education team to explore and compare family health issues, disparities in chronic illness care, social inequities and healthcare solutions. USA students in the MHIRT program complete two introductory courses followed by a 3-month research practicum in a partner country guided by faculty mentors abroad. The overall program development, student study abroad preparation, research project activities, cultural learning, and student and faculty team outcomes are explored.

Results:  Cross-fertilization of research, cultural awareness and ideas about improving family health occur through education, international exchange and research immersion. Faculty research and international team collaboration provide opportunities for learning about research, health disparities, cultural influences and healthcare systems. The students are catalysts in the research effort, the dissemination of research findings and other educational endeavours. Five steps of the collaborative activities lead to programmatic success.

Conclusions:  MHIRT scholars bring creativity, enthusiasm, and gain a genuine desire to conduct health research about families with chronic illness. Their cultural learning stimulates career plans that include international research and attention to vulnerable populations.