Increasing numbers of students are gaining international experience in developing countries. Previous studies have found that these students grew significantly in international understanding and personal development compared with students who had been placed in developed countries. Clinical placements in a refugee camp may be considered a unique type of experience that has not been described in the literature. The aim of this study was to explore how clinical placements in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon may contribute to the development of nursing competence. A hermeneutical empirical study of texts from 19 students was performed. Reflections of the students’ learning were searched through a content analysis of the texts. Three main themes were found, namely, transformative experiences from a refugee camp, being the stranger, and new perspectives on nursing. The students’ transformative experiences from the refugee camp promoted personal education and relational skills and yielded new perspectives on nursing. Placements in a refugee camp may contribute to the development of nursing competence by promoting development of the following essential elements of nursing competence: tolerance for diversity, relational skills, soothing, and agency.

Keywords: Cultural sensitivity, developing countries diversity, international placements, nursing competence, nursing education