At the beginning of the second semester of my second year, I found myself at a level of positivity that I had not reached since I first started Nursing. This is not to say in any way that the course or anything solely involved with the course was causing the turbulent feelings I had in my first year, but that the success of both my Nursing Practice 2 Exam and my placement with District nurses changed the outlook I had of my future trajectory.
I can not point directly to where the model for learning I am about to refer to comes from, as there is contention about who its creator was, but it applies to the new outlook I have.
The four stages of learning, mentioned maybe twice or three times so far between school and university, talks about transitioning from unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence. The two stages between portray the way we change how we analyse what we have learned. I know there is still a lot for me to absorb, and I still have a long journey ahead before I am qualified, but there is far less doubt in my mind that I am capable and passionate enough to succeed above and beyond what will be asked of me.
Despite how metaphorical and abstract my explanation is, the feelings that the new perspective brought have change the way in which I behave and react to situations. And this is important during cycle 2, as we moved into a module that was very focused on our professionalism and our ability to juggle being task-motivated as well as people-centred in healthcare.
Our first observation took place in a session where we were asked to role play a conversation with a patient, and this was a day where I was alone and without anyone to talk to near me. I let my anxiety about what I might say guide me to volunteering for the first role-play, one which took me out of my comfort zone entirely.
A 19-year-old boy who had just tested positive for chlamydia came into the imaginary clinic I was working at, and the conversation that followed I can honestly say shook me, but also gave a foundation of confidence talking about a difficult subject involving both personal and ethical aspects. Projecting this onto the wider trajectory I talked about earlier, I had the capacity to reserve judgement and remain professional through a conversation where I felt the patient was both stubbornly unaware of the safe sex and offensive towards women. Starting with this example, I have started to build a positive reflection catalogue of situations where I know in the past I have removed myself from a position of judgement and instead provided a supportive environment with open conversation.
The next session in the study, coincidentally, was about sexual health. I had spoken with Lee, who was running this session, about what he would like us to focus on; as I knew from our own version of the session that in this session he involved mixed teaching methods. We decided that the group-based problem solving would be most beneficial to the study and our learning/teaching experience, so during the session I approached a group of child nursing students who I had never met and set upon developing a plan for how we would talk to a 15 year old girl about her first sexual experience.
Now If the first session observation did not provide enough awkward conversations, then this one certainly did. As a perceived male adult nurse, who has no children or younger relatives, this case study was a maze built on a mine-field. Despite both this and the fact I was a stranger to the other students I sat with, I was welcomed into their conversation and listened intently to their ideas. Stepping back and approaching the problem from a different angle to how I would as an adult nurse was obviously made easier by being given a chance to speak to child nurses about their experiences. The emotional intelligence it must require to be able to care for individuals that range massively in their developmental stages is staggering, and in a future situation I can see myself looking for a resource or helpline to gather different fields opinions whenever the need arises without hesitation.
A major benefit I have taken away from both cycles is the chance to have an informal meeting with the people providing my education, and have an entire hour set aside to talk about my experience. I was both contributing to and benefiting from the best part of a new model of student-teacher collaboration. It felt like a team-based approach, and I had a Jay as my constant peer and colleague to give me a chance to listen to the way other students experience, perceive and evaluate the same things I have.
I believe that in practically every situation in life, collaborative problem-solving involving direct interactions between people from different backgrounds is the most comprehensive and usually most successful way to achieve a positive result. I am incredibly happy to have been part of a study that will go on to help show this, and I am grateful for the chance to evaluate my learning experience outside of simply successes and failures.