Early Childhood Studies student researcher: Zainab Altaf

I am currently in my second year of my Early Childhood Study’s Degree. I am 19 years old and live in large family of 5 siblings. I have previously studied psychology and health and social care as my A-levels and throughout my years of learning I can honestly put forward that knowledge can always be captured no matter what the profession, there is no such thing as too much knowledge. In addition, I am extremely grateful to have gained all my experiences and skills and will always keep an eye out for new opportunities.

In the beginning of my academic year I witnessed a major difference between the learning environment, this is mainly because I transitioned through a 6 form college where the environment was more controlled and students were less independent. University to me in comparison to college, felt more independent and relaxed, however although in the beginning I was quite frightened by the change of environment and people, with the help of the staff I managed to make new friends from all age groups. This enabled me to share my experience as well as gain an insight into other individuals experiences.

The main reason behind my decision for going ahead with this course is to understand and help young children. Ever since I first started working with children during my placement at college I had a strong interest towards choosing to teach as my future career. Courses revolving around children can be extremely difficult and sensitive. As most childcare related jobs don’t only revolve around children, whereas it includes their families, backgrounds and everyone and everything related to them, which can be very personal and confidential. Hence in my opinion there will be a lot of skills that are needed to be acquired throughout the rest of this course.

One meaningful learning experience that I have attained throughout my first academic year is working alongside other individuals. Working with new people has always been an issue for me as I am a very shy person and fear what other people may think of my views. However due to majority of my assignments involving group work and engaging with new people I could improve this area of weakness. Having certain people to support me also played a major role towards how well I adapted towards engaging with other people. The support that I had attained from my lectures had played a major role in this achievement of mine as I had constantly gone through activities that involved talking to other peers. Alongside this I have also received support from a close friend who I had worked on a group presentation with, this friend enabled me to share my thoughts with the rest of the group ensuring that my views are shared and heard.

Overall, I aim to achieve more skills and experiences from this course alongside the university experience. And also wish to get involved in many opportunities possible to enable myself to advance my learning.

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Adult nursing student Oliver Suppiah Cycle 2 observation reflection

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.

Adult nursing student Oliver Suppiah Cycle 1 observation reflection

As Nursing students, we were asked to observe two sessions run by one of our lecturers, Lee Roberts. One session was on chronic wounds, and the other was about living with a disability. The first session, chronic wounds, was a session heavy with physiology going into detail about the process involved in normal wound healing and how this can be disrupted. The second session was much more discursive, with a focus on understanding an empathising with the problems facing an individual with a disability.

During the sessions, me and my colleague sat in the lecture theatre near the back and timed our observation, so we had 30 minutes of note taking. Before the sessions, we met together to discuss the way in which we would set out our observation tables, as well as what categories we could use to streamline our notes. Additionally, we met with Lee and the lecturer also taking part in the observation, Dion Smyth. We met Lee and Dion twice, first to talk through what our expectations of the study were and what factors influence our own learning experience, and then a second time to reflect upon the observations and how the study affected our metacognition of the learning process.

I approached the study with the idea that I would be able to get an insight into my own experiences of learning, and with that in mind, I was anxious about what I might uncover within myself. My attention can stray with very little provocation, and having already experienced university once and deciding to leave that course, I wanted to know what changed in my attitude that has made me more engaged and successful on the Nursing course.

While reflecting on each aspect of my observation table in turn, I realised that there was a constant flow of question and answer within my own interpretation of the information presented. The disruption of this flow can be caused by my own preoccupation with questions I pose in my head, but more often is caused by my fixation on the distracting behaviour of other students. This led me to feeling disappointed with both my own ability to concentrate, and other students’ lack of awareness for their peers learning. Despite this, there was a sense of achievement gained by completing this cycle of the study through a positive approach shared by me and my colleague.

Instead of focusing on superficial aspects of the way the lecture was presented, like the nuances of how Lee spoke or whether the content was noteworthy, we primarily noted the diverse ways the information was structured and how the audience and Lee responded to this information. This meant that we moved away from subjective judgements, which can only be used to infer our individual personal opinions.

During our training session for the study, we also had a question and answer style interview that was recorded. These recordings were sent to us via email, and listening to these proved incredibly helpful when identifying the parts of our own history of learning that relate to studying nursing. This gave me the idea of working backwards from my own cognition of the learning process to develop a table with categories of observable aspects, which could then be used to organise the points noted during the sessions. This led to a more objective approach to the observation, but also revealed a specific benefit I found in both visually presented processes in flow charts and the benefits of linking theory and practice through case studies.

Before our first scheduled observation, Jay and I met to discuss the tables we prepared using our practice observations and our initial interview recordings. By connecting the innate observations while taking notes in our own lectures with the conversations we had about how our own perceptions change the way we process information, we helped each other vocalise our expectations of lectures and what could be done to avoid assessing the content of the lecture based on these. Through doing this though, we also began discussing criteria for observation.

With this idea of criteria, there became a way of fixating on aspects of the session that were best to reflect on, and this lead to the learning experience being treated in a reactive way. Straying away from non-biased reflection post-observation and putting more effort into immediately reflecting on the session was a poor choice, and as this was my own mistake it became difficult to shift the reflection back to the topic of future learning experiences and how to improve them.

To have made a more positive difference in my own learning and reflection, I could have spent some time with my colleague Jay discussing the feelings and benefits that came from the experience. We could have recorded this meeting and used it as a debrief, therefore giving us the opportunity to go over the specific aspects of the sessions that we felt aided the learning process and used this to add to our reflection.

However, by designing my observation table to give me a category specifically focused on personal experiences and situations encountered in practice, my reflection revealed an important learning outcome in our course related to imagining a case study and assessing the patient. This involvement of visualisation of a real-life scenario changes the way information is managed and further committed to memory. A poignant example of this was when Lee discussed the idea of how a student nurse is made to feel empowered when on placement, or rather the lack of empowerment we usually experience. As students we are often referred to as simply ‘the student’ without attention paid to our names, and the expectations on us are continually shifting while our locus of control is no longer internalised. This was then translated over to how a patient feels when in our care, and how if there is a hierarchy of control with students lower down within it, then patients that are stripped of their individuality and placed into an environment they have little to no control over must be the lowest tier of this hierarchy.

The awareness that this study will provide of the factors affecting nursing students can be used to assess the formation of new programmes for the nursing course. There are links that can be made between the practical applications that a nursing programme must include and the lectures that discuss them in a beneficial way, through case study prompts and the occasional theatrical presentation.

It would have been advantageous if the study could have recruited more student observers, as this would have led to a wider range of perceptions of the sessions, as well as further evidence that there is a massive benefit to promoting reflective writing as a tool for improvement of both academic engagement and practical skills development.

Coincidentally, our timeframe for completing this cycle of the study coincides with the end of our module, which also means that our module assessment is imminent. This comes in the form of a summative exam, and I can certainly see the benefits of the self-discovery I have encountered during this observational study. My revision is now more tailored towards visualising physiological processes and breaking these into staged systems that I can follow, almost like a fluid narrative story.

Unfortunately, I was not able to apply any of my categorising techniques to my notes as it would not work very well retrospectively. However, in the future I will organise my post-session notes into separate text and images, with flow charts and prompt questions to summarise and jolt my revision. For this exam revision though I have fashioned my own key word flow charts to use as flash points.

As a final point, the results of this study should be able to help influence the changes that will be made to the new Nursing programmes for all the fields being designed for September 2019. I am proud to be part of a course that pays close attention to the feedback given by students. With this in mind, I hope that the extent of the data and reflection given by the students that took part across the fields can further the awareness the faculty staff have of the student experience, and the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that are involved in this experience.

Adult nursing student Jabar Hussain Cycle 1 observation reflection

Students were selected to participate in a research project funded by Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to develop experimental innovations in learning and teaching for either undergraduate or postgraduate taught provision. The research was an insight into education comprehension by learners and the methodology used by lecturers to edify students on that level of education.

Our team of researcher included; Jay (me), Oliver (peer), Vanessa (research leader). Me and my colleague Oliver had to liaise and acquiesce with two selected lecturers Dion Smyth (senior lecturer) and Lee Roberts (new lecturer), agreeing on the observations and which lecturers we can observe. We also highlighted issues that would influence our learning and recorded our meetings on a dictator for reflection purposes.

As well as being a student and preparing ourselves for an upcoming exam on Nursing Practice 2 and our placement we had to selectively decide on criteria to base our observations on and have a pre and post meeting to address any concerns.

The sessions which were to be observed were; Chronic wounds and Disability, which were delivered by Lee Roberts. Disability was a lecture which me and my colleague had previously attended and were familiar with the presentation but the chronic wounds session was going to be our first attendance.

Prior to the first observation on chronic wounds I decided what I would like to observe and listed the sub headings in order to populate with my findings. I tactically positioned myself to the back of the class to get a clear view of student interaction as well as lecturer presentation.  The session was a follow up from a previous chronic wound session already delivered to the taught students. There was a lot of long term memory stimulating activities which were rewarded on the basis of a correct answer interaction. I found that incentive pretty encouraging as well as fun. The session continued with heavy physiology and large revision content.

The second session which was on disability was a session that had a lot of interruption. There were many influencing factors such as; the last session of the day, the encouragement to liaise with fellow students to acquire information which increased the noise levels beyond adequate. The educational aura had seemed to be disconcerted with the level of disruption to the point where I found myself looking around towards students responsible for the session debacle.

The first session I enjoyed due to the engagement of the eager students to acquire knowledge leading up to the anticipated exam. I found myself content with the session structure and impressed with the style it was delivered. The method of recalling information by asking questions and especially rewarding students for the interaction with goodies was exceptional. The only downfall to this lecture was the room temperature which was uncomfortably warm, and the fact that the break was delayed as well as me sitting in the middle of the row. I would have had to ask a lot of students to get up and let me pass in order to get up and leave the session to get fresh air and cool down. Since I did not want to disrupt their learning I decided to wait till the break, which was delayed.

I was thinking of what I need to cover after the session and which sources I could utilise i.e. library, Moodle and add more to my notes. This is the type of lectures that gets me thinking, makes me want to search for new sources to emphasise on the information I noted during the session.

The second lecture, which was a session I have previously attended, was not a positive one on my preference list of classes. I could not focus neither could I hear Lee, I found Lee’s continuous prompting of the students to quiet down a little disrespecting towards Lee. As I couldn’t concentrate I left the session to document and record my findings in the library.

The timing of these sessions was critical due to the exam one month away and the coverage to be extensive. I have previously failed an exam and an assignment which was more the reason why I wanted to pay close attention. In my usual classes I situate myself in the front rows, just so that I do not miss anything. I cannot fail and to address that concern I re-write information in order to memorise it. I utilise many methods so that I can recall information.

The content I found heavy on certain factors such as physiology, where the process was listed and we were prompted to remember for the exam. The other type of information which we were given such as the disability lecture where we were told not to memorise the actual current statistics for disabled people or the percentage of the types of diseases due to the exam not having to question the students on specific topics yet we were questioned and told to seek the answers in the actual lecture.

There was a lot of confusion with students on the content of the exam due to the coverage being; multiple sclerosis, diabetes, cancer and acute abdomen, which then had cells, mitosis, bloods and blood transfusion. Every word in this content opened a new route of knowledge and it is quite easy to drift into irrelevant territory.

I personally experienced this on my last exam and this is one of my main weaknesses that when I sit to revise, I would search external material on a topic such as cancer and come across ‘proto-oncogene’ I would then drift into a totally different category on mutations and genetics, DNA etc. by the time I look back and realise I just wasted an hour.

Sessions should be delivered addressing the actual requirements from the student. I disagree with the onerous of the student to acquire useful material. Adult nursing is about delivering holistic healthcare; mistakes can cause deaths, i.e. giving the wrong medication, not understanding the implications of contraindications, the severity of allergic reactions.

The overall perception on Bachelors in Nursing is currently stigmatised by the difficulty faced by newly qualified nurses, I have even heard nurses stating that they would never undertake another nursing course again. When this is mentioned to lecturers they jump to the ‘we don’t spoon feed’.

Through my participation I gained an insight into my learning style and yet still feel that no matter how hard I try to learn and how much effort I apply there will always be a hidden agenda in the examinations and the content delivered. I would like to see transparency and fairness for future students which can only be attained if a major reform takes place within universities leadership.

Many would disagree with my views, at the age of 41 I have had my fair share of life experiences to identify that it is a financially driven society. If a questionnaire was prepared asking all qualified nurses when have they utilised the knowledge and education on mitosis or the axon, etc. I wonder how many would say they do.

Adult nursing staff Lee Roberts Cycle 1 observation reflection

During the Chronic Wounds session, I felt comfortable and confident with the content.  I was mindful that this group had last received a wound session two weeks earlier than planned due to unforeseen guest lecturer absence. As such, I wanted to recap key learning from the previous wound session to ensure they felt prepared to further build upon theory. I felt the quiz at the start of the lecture was successful, and students appeared to enjoy the challenge of answering questions for prizes. I observed students, who do not often speak during large lectures, raising their hands to answer questions, and I was mindful of encouraging their engagement. On reflection, I feel this approach was beneficial in creating a safe learning environment where students felt comfortable to contribute to the session. This element of the session was met with laughter also, which I felt suggested students were beginning to relax before I moved onto more complex theory relating to chronic wounds.  My observer suggested that this approach was effective in encouraging students to contribute, but also acknowledge that answering questions appeared less pressured through humour and prizes.

Throughout the session, I explored anatomy and physiology relating to chronic wounds. I was concerned that this more complex information may be more difficult for some to grasp. I deliberately provided a flow diagram to break down the steps. Additionally I utilised the case study approach for students to try to apply this theory to practice. I continuously asked questions for the audience to clarify the groups understanding. On reflection, I still recognise the difficulty some students may have in admitting they do not fully understand the content covered when they are in large groups. I have concerns they are less likely to ask for clarification in these situations. Whilst my observe suggested that my encouraging responses to questions may support learners confidence, even if their questions are “off point”, I would still want to consider how I can confirm all students in the group have truly understood the content. Perhaps in future, tools such as online anonymous quizzes could alleviate this pressure for students, allowing them to record honest questions and answers. Due to room availability, it is difficult to remain behind following the session to clarify any points with students one to one. As such, I will consider inviting students to email me any questions / queries following sessions, to allow for this dialogue to continue.

I felt the use of media such as video clips and photographs were beneficial to clarify points discussed within the lecture. These were placed after the delivery of theoretical content to allow the students to better apply this new knowledge in a practical way. Following these, students appeared to relate to images / videos, confirming that they had “seen this in practice” for example.

I recognised the difficulty in delivering sessions utilising other lecturers teaching material. As a new member of the teaching team, I would be keen to change future presentations to suit my style of teaching and delivery. Due to these restrictions, I deliberately edited some information from pre-session slides from students to allow for greater discuss during lecturers. Following the session I released the post session slides to ensure students were provided with all of the information required. My observer suggested that this was an appropriate method in engaging learners, as answers were not provided in advance. When considering meeting students learning needs, I was conscious that those with learning disabilities would be required to receive content in advance. To achieve this, pre session slides and appropriate pre session reading material were provided one month in advance of the lecture to allow learns to complete preparation for this lecture. I recognise that some students will not complete this pre reading however; I am therefore giving consideration to alternative approaches such as online lectures and audio material, in the hopes that this is more readily accessible for learners from home, instead of attending the library.

On reflection of the peer observation process, I felt my observers support was incredibly valuable. I have a comfortable working relationship with my observer as he was my mentor during my initial probationary period. He allowed me to explore my findings of the lecture, and encouraged me to consider other points for future development. We discussed learning needs of students, but also considered the use of technology in sessions to aid the learners’ experience. We agreed that ownership of teaching material will also support my ongoing professional development, and I look forward to amending further module content to contribute to its development.

Following my post-observation discussion with my observer, we had the opportunity to meet with two students who observed the chronic wounds session also. I was excited to hear their perspective, and felt that it would be beneficial to explore students’ reflections on their learning during sessions. This would support my further development, and encourage me to consider lectures from another point of view.

During this open discussion with students and my observer, it was identified by students that the room for this lecture was too warm. They both explained that due to the heat in the room, they felt this impeded some of the learning experience. During this meeting, I reflected on how I may have manage this concern if it was raised to me during the session, however my actions would be limited due to room capacity, air condition control being in on a different site, and lack of windows in the room. This has encouraged me to consider how I assess student comfort during lectures. Whilst I am keen to ensure they are in a safe learning environment, and feel able to contribute, I could also consider asking about their comfort levels, perhaps asking for a “temperature check” during sessions. Such an approach may also allow me to address alternative needs such as longer or shorter breaks, and opportunities to move around the room (where space allows) to ensure these needs do not distract from the learning experience. This was not a point I was expecting, and initially I felt this session was not as positive as I had first hoped. However, on reflection I feel their perspective has allowed me to consider the overall experience of a two hour traditional lecture in such large groups, and I believe I will be able to make immediate changes to my teaching style as a result.

Stephanie Reynolds – pre observation reflection

Initially I was really quite excited by the prospect of having this particular session evaluated and observed by students and staff. Health Promotion simulation is a new session we have introduced within the module and this will be the second run having trialled it last year and initial evaluations proved positive. This particular session will be the 5th lecture delivered in this way.

The style of this lecture which is predominantly simulation was born out of recognition that students find the concept of practising health promotion awkward, they don’t know how to, and rarely do they see it done well.  With Health promotion being such a big part of a nurses’ role in accordance with the NMC and National Guidance, it should not be overlooked, nor side lined as an ‘add on’ to practice.  The addition of health promotion to any nurses’ practice to me is associated with high quality care and confidence, where a nurse is comfortable in role and communication with patients in order to be able to offer choice. Therefore reflecting on previous delivery of this subject, talking to students about the importance of health promotion is really not enough if we are to demonstrate how it is to be done and thus practising it and reflecting on individual practice or performance.

The session is structured by first having a half an hour talk on how to deliver health promotion including reflecting on good or bad experiences, then offering 3 scenarios where students can interact with an actor (another lecturer) and have a go using the principles taught.

The session delivered this way is risky as owing to large class sizes the luxury of making the environment comfortable is limited.  When we ask students to volunteer to practice, we not only expect them to be vulnerable within that learning, but to be observed and critiqued by their peers of which there can be up to 100 in number. My role as facilitator I feel is to make the environment as safe as possible by being encouraging and adopting a reflective style.  I have decided this time around not to pick on students to undertake the task, but to ask for volunteers only, encouraging where necessary some of the interaction to tell me answers but to direct that line of thought to the patient actor.

For the observation, I want feedback from the colleague observer on how I made the environment safe, if there are any ways to improve, and what to do particularly when students weren’t successful in their efforts.  I have in previous sessions been very tempted to steer the outcomes of the scenarios and tell students the answers rather than allowing time for reflection and development of their own thinking. A previous session to this worked well, where students were excellent in drawing out and empowering the patients, thus getting the point of the learning outcome. If students don’t get the learning outcome, I’m not sure where to go with it, e.g do I tell them eventually or do I leave it for them to reflect….does it actually matter if they don’t achieve the learning outcome?  Sometimes it feels like I am hosting a guessing game as one of the scenarios in particular can be drawn out as students list a number of things they can do for the patient and miss the point of empowering the patient to do it for themselves.

It would be good to get both student and staff perspectives on this learning in particular and also gauge whether large groups inhibit the participation, or widen the possibility of observation.

Another aspect of learning or feedback that would be useful to know is what to do when students don’t readily volunteer as the silence can often be uncomfortable. Should I wait? Should I pick on people or should I do it myself?

From a student perspective I would like to know what learning was achieved from participating, and what learning was achieved by observing.  Could they relate back to the aspects of a health promotion model as they observed, and or reflected on their learning? And would they feel more confident in applying this to their practice and their care planning? To further expand this observation further it would be good if students could reflect how this session has influenced their practice?

Child nursing student researcher: Amina Abdulkhadir

I am 20 and originally from Somalia.  We moved to the UK when I was only 3 years old.  I can speak three languages fluently and I am stuck somewhere between British, African and Asian culture.  I completed my GCSE’s and attended college where I did BTEC applied sciences.  I decided to become a children’s nurse because I like children and I worked in a nursery and a GP surgery, so I knew that I like the concept of care.  Children’s nursing was a natural choice.  One of my passions are travelling all over the world especially America.  Whilst travelling and seeing the different parts of the world I also noticed the different children, the suffering and the help I could offer them once qualified.  This has inspired me to want to become an outreach nurse and travel the world helping children everywhere.

Firstly, to reach my dream I need to qualify as a nurse.  University has been hard so far because it is socially very different, new friend, new teachers, new environment and the amount of work that is expected from us was shocking.  Especially managing all of this and a part time job.  Lecturers use different teaching methods.  I believe that I learn best by reading and then making notes.  Teaching style that suites me best will be question and answer type of sessions.  I believe this is the only way I learn, and by learning I am working towards reaching my dream of helping the children.

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Child nursing student researcher: Stacy Rogers

I’m Stacy, I have a background in childcare which started at college where I completed an NVQ level 3 in childcare and education. After completing this I made the decision to not continue with my education, feeling I was not academically good enough for university.

I worked in a variety  of childcare setting, before becoming a manager of an after school club, 11 years later I decided that I needed to explore the possibility that I was now ready for university,  I felt my job was no longer giving me the satisfaction I needed, and perhaps now was the time to back into education. Completing an access course gave me the academic base and knowledge I needed to bring me to university and where I am today.

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Child nursing staff: Nathalie Turville

I am currently a Senior Lecturer in the Department for Children & Young People’s Health however when starting out as a nurse, I never anticipated that I would become a nurse academic.

Although I knew from the age of 4 (according to family lore) that I wanted to be a nurse, I decided not to follow the traditional ‘apprenticeship’ route in to nursing. Instead, I chose to go to university and studied for a BSc (Hons) Sociology and Social Policy with Registered General Nurse. I wanted the experience of reading for a degree, learning new ideas and being challenged academically.  At university, I attended lectures with several hundred students where we all sat frantically scribbling down the ‘wise words’ of the lecturers. A favourite lecturer was Joan Higgins, admired not only because she was a Professor but also for her style, her ability to hold the attention of the class and also because she would distribute a one page handout of key points! My lecturers taught me the power of the spoken word, the importance of expert knowledge and the role of performance in the lecture theatre.

I worked as a Children’s Nurse specialising in neonatal cardiology and then neonatal surgery. I established teaching programmes for student nurses and newly qualified staff in the clinical areas where I was working. Clinical teaching is essential to enable staff to question their practice and ensure that it is current and evidence-based so that ultimately, the child and family receive the best possible care. Even now, when I now no longer provide direct nursing care, the child and family are central to my teaching.

Moving in to the university in 2001 was a major decision, forcing me to question my identity and role in nursing. I had been comfortable teaching in clinical practice and was now faced with teaching from between 12 to 180 students, and using a range of different teaching techniques. I rapidly became familiar with large-group lectures and found I enjoyed the challenge of engaging the students. I became a performer and raconteur and have always illustrated my lectures with anecdotes and stories. I learned about problem-based learning and the skill of facilitation, struggling to hold back on providing the answers and instead, encouraging the students to question and explore knowledge to develop their understanding. I have developed workshops, role plays, case studies and simulations. I am learning about e-learning. I have come full circle – I am back to reading, learning new knowledge and being challenged to inspire and educate the nurses of the future.

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