AU welcomes foreign Nursing and Allied Health Sciences students who wish to undergo a community and cultural immersion program here in the Philippines. The immersion takes place in AU’s partner communities for community development and AU’s affiliate hospitals. The program also involves a tour of historic places in Metro Manila and in neighboring provinces. Recreational activities are also facilitated to provide participants with a holistic experience of Filipino culture. The program is designed according to the learning needs of the students and the course requirements of their school of origin.
The immersion guarantees an enlightening, edifying and empowering experience to its participants as they are allowed to have significant interactions with the health workers of the hospitals and communities as well as its residents . The interactions expose the visiting students to the prevailing healthcare practices and issues, especially the unmet healthcare needs of the people. The students are able to collaborate with health professionals in the areas and demonstrate certain competencies that they are expected to possess for community nursing or the like. More importantly, the students are given the chance to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life in the communities as they engage in activities such as health assessment, health teachings, vitamin administration and feeding programs. Thus, the students get to apply theories and skills needed for them to satisfy the requirements of their course, while gaining a sense of fulfillment that can only be acquired from the experience of helping the less fortunate.
The immersion program may include a tour of Philippine historic and cultural places like Intramuros and Corregidor. The students are presented with a nutshell of Philippine history and culture through the guided tour, with the objective of encouraging them to appreciate the similarities and differences between our culture and theirs. They are also brought to recreational places such as shopping centers, restaurants and resorts to give them a taste of Filipino hospitality. The whole experience and the entirety of the program induces an awareness of the disparity of the customs and needs between our society and the society that the students belong to, not only in terms of healthcare but also in terms of everyday life. The program then creates culture-sensitive individuals with the potential of becoming highly effective community health workers.
The students are accompanied and guided throughout the program by faculty and staff from both the Nursing departments, as well as from the International Programs Division of AU. Medical doctors who are members of the faculty and administration of AU guide the students, as they engage in healthcare-related activities. Nursing students of AU join the visiting foreign students in their stay in the communities. This gives the opportunity for the students to have an exchange of knowledge about healthcare coming from different orientations and cultures.
The duration of the program varies depending on the needs of the students as dictated by the institutions that they come from. It normally lasts for two to three weeks. The schedule is made in alignment with the academic schedule of the foreign institutions. The program is designed with close consultation with faculty and administrators of the participating institutions. An evaluation follows to measure the degree of effectiveness of the program in meeting its objectives.
AU started accommodating foreign students to the program in 2008. The first batch of students to go through the program came from Alderson-Broaddus (A-B) College of Philippi, West Virginia, USA, which happens to be AU’s partner for the International Nursing Program. A-B has sent two batches of Nursing students on two different occasions. In 2011, Edith Cowan University of Perth Western Australia, (another partner institution of AU for Nursing) sent its first batch of Nursing students. ECU sent its second batch of students in November 2012.