Student-reported value of a short-term service-learning trip to Nicaragua

Rebecca J. Merkey, Laura C. Palombi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The purpose of this qualitative study was to assess the student-reported professional and personal value of a one-week service-learning trip to a Nicaraguan community. Methods: Five pharmacy students who participated in a one-week service-learning trip to Jinotepe, Nicaragua were invited to participate in this study. Individual, semi-structured interviews were conducted following the trip. Results: A variety of themes and subthemes surfaced, demonstrating the student-reported professional and personal value of the short-term service-learning experience. While each pharmacy student was impacted differently, common themes demonstrated transformative pharmacy student learning. These themes included recognition that every individual has a unique story that is essential to understanding how to care properly for that individual; the benefit of establishing a relationship with a community to more effectively and compassionately serve them; the importance of determining community-specific needs to ensure that service provided is beneficial; and recognition that those who are served have wisdom to offer healthcare providers. Conclusions: Short-term service-learning opportunities can provide impactful learning for pharmacy students. Established service-learning visits with a consistent host site allow for deeper and more trusting relationships, resulting in the ability to respond to the needs and requests of the partner organization in developing communities and not impose agendas. Organizers of service-learning trips must cater to the needs of the developing community to ensure that the trip is effective in providing value to the host site rather than creating unnecessary burdens and unanticipated hardship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-57
Number of pages9
JournalCurrents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • International
  • Medical mission
  • Nicaragua
  • Pharmacy
  • Service-learning

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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