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Ethical challenges encountered by undergraduate nursing students on overseas clinical placements: An exploratory study

Wednesday 3 July: 5:30pm – 7:00pm, poster session



Dr Floraidh Corfee
Australian Catholic University, Australia

Dr Adam Burston
Australian Catholic University, Australia



The development of nursing students’ ethical fortitude is a difficult but necessary element in their progression towards becoming critical ethical practitioners. Undergraduate nursing ethics education is structured across curricula and is commonly centred on the ethical challenges encountered in a familiar socio-cultural context. International clinical placements expose students to a range of contextually disparate ethical challenges, such as resource depletion or different models of resource allocation. Unfamiliar social and political practices driving the delivery of healthcare exposes students to situations that challenge and contradict the bio-medical approach to healthcare. Compounding these broader contextual challenges, the students are asked to practice in an unfamiliar and at times confronting environment, while simultaneously navigating significant communication barriers.

Seeking to understand the student experience of identifying and managing ethical challenges on international placements enables the development of the appropriately structured support systems and debrief models. This poster describes an exploratory study, investigating the experiences of undergraduate students encountering ethical challenges on an overseas clinical placement. Data were generated through focus groups and written reflections, forming an iterative loop with extant literature to facilitate analysis.

Students identified ethical challenges as primarily arising from differences in the provision of healthcare. They identified issues such as confidentiality, privacy, scope of practice, the nursing role, and the nature of the therapeutic relationship. Additionally, the perception of the nursing student as a ‘nursing tourist’ emerged. Nursing students indicated a desire to engage in targeted educational preparation activities to prepare for these challenges, as well as in the use of regular and frequent conversations (or debrief sessions) as a support tool.


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Poster session

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