Trans-cultural nursing: Exploring the experiences of international students visiting Namibia

  • L Pretorius
  • L Small
Keywords: trans-cultural nursing, cultural encounter, culture shock


In a rapidly changing world, where people from diverse cultures move about more readily, nurses may find themselves faced with patients and clients with a totally different world perspective and health belief system. Because this aspect has long been recognised by nurse educators, many educational institutions, in a proactive fashion, have incorporated trans-cultural nursing content in their nursing curricula. As possible options for students to gain clinical exposure in caring for a culturally diverse population, educational visits by student nurses to foreign countries have been increasingly accepted and credited. Namibia is amongst the countries that are visited by foreign nursing students, who are usually well-prepared with regard to what is required during their clinical exposure, as their educational institutions provide them with instructions and objectives. However, they are not as well-prepared in respect of “acclimatising” to the country per se and the world view of Namibians. In fact, it appears that there is a huge gap between their expectations and reality. Consequently, it becomes necessary to provide them with basic guidelines to bridge this discrepancy and to make their visit more meaningful. A qualitative, explorative, descriptive and contextual study was conducted to determine the nature of their experiences. Data were collected over a period of four years by means of narratives that were written by students who had spent at least 12 weeks within the Namibian health care services as visiting nurses. Three themes emerged, namely (1) experiences relating to recognition of differences in care delivery, (2) experiences relating to feelings of culture shock, and (3) appreciation for experiencing a cultural encounter. Based on these themes, guidelines were constructed. These guidelines addressed aspects such as the health structure of the country, health belief systems, legal aspects, and the philosophy of nursing care in Namibia.

Keywords: trans-cultural nursing; cultural encounter; culture shock

Health SA Gesondheid Vol. 12 (1) 2007: pp. 12-20

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2071-9736
print ISSN: 1025-9848