Nursing is not what it used to be—Thank goodness! Our profession is ever-changing with an evolving understanding of the human body, advancing technology, and effort to become more holistic. (Please stand by for a post on what “holistic nursing” means.)

In addition to, and maybe in part due to these progresses, the world is getting smaller and smaller each day. Globalization is defined by Smith & Smith (2002) as “the growing integration of economies and societies around the world, including the accelerating mobility of goods, services, labour, technology, and capital.” Healthcare, though not always capital, is certainly always a service provided. Nurses make up the majority of the healthcare workforce worldwide, and yet globalization of nursing is still often overlooked and unheeded. I personally view globalization of nursing as a way to help the world by either primary or secondary means—that is, by helping the world directly, and by helping you be a better nurse which, in turn, can help the world indirectly.

In the world of nursing, the idea is to move toward a standardization; to enable nurses to share roles and responsibilities no matter where they are. This would allow for increased support of one another, easier transitions between locations, and advancement of healthcare in struggling communities worldwide. Allowing nursing to fulfill all of its potential shows great promise for a healthier world, and with a healthier world, we know life expectancies to increase, causing workforce labor to surge, and economies to flourish.

The second idea is the notion that understanding healthcare systems around the world can make you a better nurse. I took a fantastic adventure during my last month of graduate school to teach nursing in the tiny town of Moshi, Tanzania. Beyond the culture shock and resulting maturity that came with my first solo travel outside of the U.S., I gained a new understanding of my profession. While getting to know my students and their world inside the borders of a politically-corrupt, indigent, albeit gorgeous and jovial country, I began to understand what parts of nursing translated among cultures. The beautiful realization that nursing is showing promising advancement, even in Moshi, is a feeling I hope every young nurse gets to experience. However, I left a better nurse not only for this reason, but because the experience allowed me to witness the disparities of our profession, as well. These included the lack of adequate teachers, the discrepancies in the responsibility and scope of practice internationally, the gap between what a nurse learns in school and how much of that knowledge is applied in practice, and the occupational prejudice that accompanies nursing (don’t worry, I have a post about that, too.)

Long story short: Do whatever you have to do to leave the United States and see nursing somewhere else. The further away, the better. I’m so passionate about this topic that I’ve even included some resources to help you find a way to make it work. Globalization of nursing begins with yourself — so do your world a favor and broaden your heart, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Tips & Resources

  • Ask your college/university advisor if any study abroad credits are available through your university to meet your graduation requirements.
    • Often times it is the Community Nursing, Global Nursing, or Spanish in Healthcare –type classes that are eligible, if your university offers them.
  • Ask your college/university advisor what the credit transfer process is.
    • There is often a separate office dedicated to just this, and working in tandem with them and your nursing school will allow you the easiest process.
  • If credit transfer is possible, do your best to arrange for that as you research study abroad programs that are outside your institution.
    • Some ideas to ask for credit application include the course types listed above, or asking for credit to fulfill an elective requirement.
  • As a last resort, clear your summer and do an abroad experience without credit — I promise that while you won’t gain any college hours, the hours of influence will be worth it.
    • If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to find a Nursing Externship or Residency Program, typically reserved for the summer before your last year of nursing school.

Helpful sites:



Brennan works in the Texas Medical Center in Houston as an RN Stem Cell Transplant coordinator. She is a certified Nurse Educator, received her MSN from Duke University, and plans to engage in research and education in her future nursing career.

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