Healthcare improvement science (HIS) is the generation of knowledge to cultivate change towards improving health systems performance. Our purpose was to evaluate the experience of European nursing students after an intensive one-week summer program conducted in 2019 at the University of Alicante in Spain. The educational intervention combined theoretical and practical HIS contents, with students from different countries, educational programs, and health systems. The intervention was evaluated under a qualitative approach through the open discussion group technique based on the method of participatory action research (PAR), with a total of 25 students who reflected about their experiences and perceptions during the intervention. The responses were used to improve the program's contents, its didactics, and organization. Nursing empowerment, professional recognition, and healthcare research were some of the seven main categories identified through the systematic content analysis method triangulated by three experienced researchers. According to the students' replies, values like compassion, respect, or empathy were identified as key elements of care. Promoting international students' networking emerged as the key to creating a positive provision for change and the generation of improvement initiatives. Building a HIS culture may potentially provide future healthcare professionals with critical thinking skills and the resources needed to improve their future work settings.
Keywords: Europe; improvement science; nursing students; qualitative research; thinking.