PURPOSE: Although international service learning has the capacity to promote a variety of important professional behaviors, merely visiting another country does not automatically result in these benefits. METHODS: This article describes an evidenced-based course which used pre-trip preparation in combination with a nine day service learning trip to Ecuador to develop cultural competence among 6 occupational and 6 physical therapy students. Pre-trip preparation included online and in-person components to increase self-awareness, awareness of other cultures, knowledge about Ecuadorian culture and skill-building. On-site activities included exploration of the physical and social context in addition to providing occupational and physical therapy treatment in a variety of settings. The authors collected qualitative information by reviewing responses to prompts on an online forum. A pre-test/post-test format using the Inventory for Assessing the Process of Cultural Competence Among Healthcare Professionals-Student Version (IAPCC-SV) was used to gather quantitative information. RESULTS: A paired-samples t-test was used to compare the group’s pre-test and post-test scores on the IAPCC-SV. There was a statistically significant difference in the scores between the pre-test (M=57.72, SD+ 6.66) and post-test (M=67.54, SD+ 3.55) with the change in mean score of 9.81 resulting in t= -491, df = 10 and p ≤.001. DISCUSSION: The results showed a change in students from the level of culturally aware to culturally competent based on the scale provided in IAPCC-SV. The experience resulted in an increased desire to continue intercultural practice. Health care professionals have a responsibility to be culturally competent. This article will assist health care professionals to reflect on the advantages of joining an international service learning trip to expand their self-awareness and awareness of other cultures. Professors may reflect on how pre-trip preparation may enhance existing service learning experiences.
Keane E, Provident I. Combining Online Education with International Service Learning to Increase Cultural Competence. The Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice. 2017 Jun 29;15(3), Article 6.