University of Oulu

Kristina Mikkonen, Satu Elo, Anna-Maria Tuomikoski, Maria Kääriäinen, Mentor experiences of international healthcare students’ learning in a clinical environment: A systematic review, Nurse Education Today, Volume 40, 2016, Pages 87-94, ISSN 0260-6917,

Mentor experiences of international healthcare students’ learning in a clinical environment : a systematic review

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Author: Mikkonen, Kristina1; Elo, Satu1; Tuomikoski, Anna-Maria2;
Organizations: 1Research Unit of Nursing Science and Health Management, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Oulu University Hospital, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2016
Publish Date: 2019-04-08


Background: Globalisation has brought new possibilities for international growth in education and professional mobility among healthcare professionals. There has been a noticeable increase of international degree programmes in non-English speaking countries in Europe, creating clinical learning challenges for healthcare students.

Objective: The aim of this systematic review was to describe mentors’ experiences of international healthcare students’ learning in a clinical environment. The objective of the review was to identify what influences the success or failure of mentoring international healthcare students when learning in the clinical environment, with the ultimate aim being to promote optimal mentoring practice.

Design: A systematic review was conducted according to the guidelines of the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination.

Data sources: Seven electronic databases were used to search for the published results of previous research: CINAHL, Medline Ovid, Scopus, the Web of Science, Academic Search Premiere, Eric, and the Cochrane Library.

Review Methods: Search inclusion criteria were planned in the PICOS review format by including peer-reviewed articles published in any language between 2000 and 2014. Five peer-reviewed articles remained after the screening process. The results of the original studies were analysed using a thematic synthesis.

Results: The results indicate that a positive intercultural mentor enhanced reciprocal learning by improving the experience of international healthcare students and reducing stress in the clinical environment. Integrating international healthcare students into work with domestic students was seen to be important for reciprocal learning and the avoidance of discrimination.

Conclusion: Many healthcare students were found to share similar experiences of mentoring and learning irrespective of their cultural background. However, the role of a positive intercultural mentor was found to make a significant difference for international students: such mentors advocated and mediated cultural differences and created a welcoming environment for international students by helping to minimise feelings of social isolation.

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Series: Nurse education today
ISSN: 0260-6917
ISSN-E: 1532-2793
ISSN-L: 0260-6917
Volume: 40
Pages: 87 - 94
DOI: 10.1016/j.nedt.2016.02.013
Type of Publication: A2 Review article in a scientific journal
Field of Science: 316 Nursing
Funding: Additional thanks go to the Finnish Foundation of Nursing Education for funding the first author's research, thus making it possible to conduct the review reported in this article.
Copyright information: © 2016. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license