Combining and integrating life /social sciences and citizen trainers in Nurse Education - a N. Ireland initiative

Johanna McMullan, John Power

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Before commencement of the academic year 2012/2013 the social sciences, public health and the biomedical sciences were taught to separate modules. This reinforced the idea off separate disciplines certainly for some of the younger students and a failure to appreciate the interconnectedness (whole person) perspective on health; separately modules taught and assessed in separate silos. There was limited understanding by the lecturers of the other areas that they were not teaching to -reflecting perhaps a dis-coordinated approach to health sciences (Mason and Whitehead 2003). As a result of significant discussion and interdisciplinary negotiation the life, social sciences public health/ health education were drawn together in the one module for the academic year 2012/13. The module provides the undergraduate students with an introduction to an understanding of Life Sciences, psychology, sociology and public health and their contribution within the context of nursing and midwifery. Each week’s teaching seeks to reflect against the other module delivered in first year - addressing clinical skills. The teaching is developing innovative e-learning approaches, including the use of a virtual community. The intention is to provide the student with a more integrated understanding and teaching to the individual’s health and to health within a social context (Lin 2001; Iles- Shih 2011). The focus is on health promotion rather than disease management. The module runs in three phases across the student’s first-year and teachers to the field of adult mental health, learning disability, children’s nursing and the midwifery students -progressively building on the student’s clinical experience. The predominant focus of the module remains on health and reflecting aspects of life and social life within N. Ireland. One of the particular areas of interest and an area of particular sensitivity is engaging the students to the context of the Northern Ireland civil unrest (the Troubles); this involves a co-educational initiative with service users, only previously attempted with social work students (Duffy 2012). The service users are represented by WAVE an organisation offering care and support to bereaved, traumatised or injured as a result of the violent civil conflict `the Troubles’. The `Troubles’ had ranged over an extended period and apart from the more evident and visual impact of death and injury, the community is marked by a disproportionate level of civil unrest, the extremes of bereavement, imprisonment, displacement antisocial behaviour and family dysfunction (Coulter et al. 2012). As co-educators with the School of Nursing and Midwifery, WAVE deliver a core lecture (augmented by online material), then followed by tutorials. The tutorials are substantially led by those who had been involved with and experienced loss and trauma as a result of the conflict (Health Service users) as `citizen trainers’ and provide an opportunity for them to share their experience and their recollection of personal interaction with nursing and midwifery students; in improving their understanding of the impact of `The Troubles’ on patients and clients affected by the events (Coulter et al. 2012) and to help better provide a quality of care cognisant of the particular needs of those affected by `the Troubles’ in N.Ireland. This approach is relatively unique to nursing in N. Ireland in that it involves many of those directly involved with and injured by the `Troubles’ as `citizen trainers’ and clearly reflects the School’s policy of progressively engaging with users and carers of nursing and midwifery services as co-educators to students (Repper & Breeze 2006). Only now could perhaps such a sensitive level of training to student nurses and midwives be delivered across communities with potential educative lessons for other communities experiencing significant civil unrest and sectarian conflict.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015
EventNET2015 Conference - Cambridge , United Kingdom
Duration: 08 Sept 201510 Sept 2015


ConferenceNET2015 Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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