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Health Care in Spain: A Cross-cultural Exploration of Illness and Wellness


Tarragona, Spain

Program Description

In this course health students will explore the health care system of Tarragona, Spain, through a partnership with the Faculty of Nursing at Universitat Rovira I Virgili. Through an international lens, students will learn about the Spanish nursing profession and related health fields, as well as the unique history, language, and culture of this Catalonian region of Spain. Students will explore the ways that Spanish health professionals address health needs in both acute and community care settings in the context of the national health system, and will compare and contrast this with their knowledge of the U.S. health system approach. This immersion experience includes a possible home stay with a Spanish nursing student and Spanish language study.

This program is open to all majors. NSG 490 is open to anyone who is interested in health and human services. NSG 453/ 453L is only open to Nursing majors.  

Location Description

The Mediterranean coastal city of Tarragona, capital city of the Catalonian province of Tarragona, is home to about 135,000 people. Barcelona, Spain’s second-largest city, is an hour north, and Valencia is to the south. Tarragona is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its rich ancient Roman history. It is also a thriving industrial port city and part of the sparkling Costa Dorada. Tarragona is the capital of an entire region full of culture, beauty, history, and learning opportunities. As part of this Study Abroad program, students will learn in partnership with faculty at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), the premier location for higher education in the Province of Tarragona. Due to its emphasis on interculturality and international education, URV is renowned for high quality education and research. According to URV’s website, Tarragona “offers the perfect combination of culture, study and leisure in a safe environment.” Students will be able to advance their Spanish language skills, as well as learn Catalan, which is its own distinctive language.


Erika Metzler Sawin | | Nursing


Two meals per day are covered in the program fee.

Additional Items to Consider

Immunizations as required for both nursing department and foreign travel. A laptop with internet capability is required.

Students will have emergency access to faculty cell phones.

NSG 490 is open to anyone who is interested in health and human services.  NSG 453/ 453L is only open to Nursing majors.  

Application Process

For this program, students are required to submit the following material(s):

  • JMU Short-Term Application Form

  • A supplemental essay addressing the following questions:

    "What do you expect to gain from this course as a future healthcare professional and as an individual? What will your contributions to this group be?  Please answer this question in 500 words or less."

  • Email the program director to set up a time for an interview/ Spanish language proficiency assessment: Erika Metzler Sawin | | Nursing 

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.5.

Students are required to be proficient in Spanish, which will be assessed through the interview.

For more detailed instructions and to download the application, please click on the following link to the Applications and Forms section for JMU Short-Term Programs.

Official transcript required for first-semester transfer students and non-JMU students.

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


NSG 453: Population-Centered Care in the Community (2 credits)

NSG 453L: Population-Centered Care in the Community Clinical (2 credits)

NSG 490: Special Topics: Health Care in Spain (4 credits)

SPAN 494: Practical Medical Spanish (3 credits)