INTERNATIONALIZATION. Ewa-Lena Bratt, Louise Freytag and Camilla Eide, coordinators for the Nursing Care in Complex Care Situations course in the nursing program at Sahlgrenska Academy, have been named the recipients of the 2019 Prize for Internationalization of first and second-cycle education at the Sweden’s medical faculties. The course, now taught entirely in English, is offered each semester.
The Nursing Care in Complex Care Situations course (7.5 credits) is offered in the nursing program’s fifth semester. The award statement states that the course makes it possible to integrate incoming exchange students with Swedish students in the nursing program, creating a global classroom and thereby further developing internationalization at home within the nursing program.
The course was offered for the first time slightly more than a year ago:
“We started a bit cautiously introducing an international track in the course, first focusing on integrating incoming students in the required workshops and seminars that were part of the course, and then included the Swedish students,” explains Ewa-Lena Bratt, associate professor and examiner for the course. “During the first year only occasional lectures were in English, and in the evaluations we could see that many of the incoming students asked to have more interaction with the Swedish students. For that reason, we now offer the course in a single group and entirely in English.”
Being informed in English
Neither the students nor the teachers have opposed the fact that the course was offered entirely in English. Louise Freytag, course coordinator, was an exchange student in the Erasmus program during undergraduate studies as a nurse and has subsequently studied at both King’s College London and Flinders University in Australia. To make the situation clear, Freytag spoke English when she informed nursing students in the fourth semester that in the spring they would be taking a course entirely in English.
“No one opposed it,” says Freytag, who has succeeded Anna Kängström as coordinator. “And among the teachers, there were only a few who chose to opt out of teaching in English. It requires a certain amount of effort to prepare to teach in another language so that the knowledge is conveyed with the correct nuances. For me it was extremely positive to become part of the nursing program that is already working on internationalization, because I have been involved with this issue ever since I was an exchange student many years ago.”
Ethics and human rights
When offered for the second time in the spring, the course was taught entirely in English so that the incoming and Swedish students could collaborate in a global classroom. More than 10 exchange students participating in the course come from countries such as Indonesia, Palestine, Vietnam, China and Estonia, and just about as many of the Swedish students will go abroad after the course on their own exchange programs. This fifth semester course, which has an enrollment of just over 100 students, provides an international perspective in the training, although most of the students do not have plans for their own exchanges. For them, internationalization takes place at home.
“The incoming students provide all of us, both teachers and students, another perspective on health care and the lives of those from abroad, especially students who come from countries outside the European Union,” says Camilla Eide, a teacher in the course. “During the seminars and workshops, students’ comparisons between Sweden and the Swedish health care system and conditions in other countries emerge, which gives all of us greater insight and understanding of what the international health care system is like.”
The course is labeled as sustainable and promotes sustainable development because it increases the ethical awareness of culture, norms and social conditions and provides perspectives on human rights and justice issues, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. During the course students confront complex patient cases focusing on nursing care and reflect on treatment, communication and the patient’s right to know and understand.
“Swedish students have a different context, and their perspectives often differ from those of the international students. In Indonesia, for example, person-centered care is not a core concept. Another difference is that the head of the family sometimes is the one who makes decisions about the care and treatment of family members and the information to be communicated to those who are sick,” says Freytag.
They also note that there are international similarities in care that can also be thought-provoking for the students. “In the emergency room in Sweden, we see patients every day who really ought to have gone to primary health care or a medical center, and that seems to be a universal situation. This sparked strong recognition among international students from many countries,” says Bratt, smiling at the fact that there actually are similarities with places like Palestine.
Many can take pride
Bratt, Freytag and Eide are all careful to point out that there is a long list of people who have contributed to developing the course, so many can now take pride in both the course and the prize. They would especially like to thank Rebecca Törnqvist at Sahlgrenska Academy International Office (SAIO), who provided encouragement and support throughout the development process and who nominated them for the award. They also single out Irene Carlensberg, education administrator at the department with a background as a translator, who made a major effort to help with the translation of documents and educational materials into English. The Biomedical Library also gets high praise: “Carina Torildsson provided really great support when we needed to find suitable literature in English for the course,” says Bratt. “She had a lot of tips on good books and ferreted out various suggestions for me to investigate further. That was really a great help, and I would like to recommend that other teachers turn to the Biomedical Library when they are looking for English course literature that corresponds to the Swedish literature.”
Others can follow
Many programs at Sahlgrenska Academy want support in the process of creating courses in English, which was brought out through the international network for teachers available through SAIO. On May 13 Bratt, Freytag and Eide will tell us more about their process at a meeting of teachers in the faculty coordinating internationalization.
This is the third consecutive year that the Prize for Internationalization of first and second-cycle education has been awarded. The SEK 90,000 prize was established as a joint initiative by Sweden’s medical faculties to encourage teachers and teacher teams to work toward greater internationalization in education. They award the prize for the most effective effort to increase internationalization of higher education at Swedish medical faculties during the year. Sweden’s medical deans jointly name the prize-winners based on the suggestion of a national prize committee.
“Many have rejoiced with us over the prize. It spurs us on, and the prize money will be used to continue working on the course and to develop more ideas that can further improve internationalization,” says Bratt.
“Up to now most incoming students have arrived in the spring semester, but when we are able to offer the course in English in both autumn and spring, we believe that the number will also increase in the autumn semester. In the autumn we expect participants from Costa Rica, among other places,” says Freytag.
This year’s prize was recently accepted on behalf of the prizewinners by Sahlgrenska Academy Dean Agneta Holmäng at the national meeting of deans in Lund.
TEXT AND PHOTO: ELIN LINDSTRÖM CLAESSEN