Travel Report 2007
Royal College of Nurses International Research Conference in Dundee, Scotland.
Overall, the conference was excellent. I believe my presentation about mentoring in New Zealand was well received and unofficially I heard that my poster was short listed out of 78 for a prize so that was very pleasing. The concurrent sessions that were of most interest to me. Here are a few that stood out.
The exposure to verbal abuse of student nurses gaining placement experience.
Terry Ferns presented a survey that showed that student nurses were at high risk of verbal abuse and bullying. This presentation really emphasized to me the importance of having a zero tolerance policy with regards to abuse and bullying for the student midwives that I work with. There are a number of issues that face lecturers when dealing with abuse and bullying in the clinical setting, not least how it affects future clinical placements that are scarce at the best of times. Nevertheless, it must be made quite clear to students, practitioners and lecturers that bullying, especially between staff and students, will not be tolerated and protocols for dealing with it must be put in place and enacted when required.
Users’ views and experiences of prison health services: listening to the voices of prisoners
Jane Powell interviewed male and female prisoners about how their health care was managed in prison. Clearly, there are great challenges; however nurses play a large part in ensuring that prisoners stay healthy, which in turn may affect the outcome of the prisoners’ stay in prison. This left me thinking about the possibility of research in collaboration with the prison that is just about to be opened at Milton.
Clinical supervision in prison: collecting data whilst developing practice.
Nurses and officers who work in prison face unique challenges which lead to high levels of stress. Elizabeth Walsh carried out research which involved providing supervision for prison nurses which was well received by the nurses. Whilst this research had little relevance to my practice as a midwife in Dunedin, it had similarities with my interest in mentoring and made me think about mentoring in the prison setting-may be a post-doctoral project!
Primitive neonatal reflexes, breastfeeding and biological nurturing.
This research has major implications for midwifery practice throughout the world so I felt very honored to be at this presentation. Suzanne Coulson video taped women breastfeeding their babies. She found that breastfeeding happened more naturally when babies lay vertically on their mothers’ abdomens and the mothers lay backwards. This is contrary to the advice we currently give women which is for mothers to sit upright and for babies to be held horizontally. As Coulson identified herself, a lot more research is required but clearly it is time for midwives to further question their practice with regards to supporting breastfeeding.
What influences mature age students to elect online modalities as their preferred mode of study
I attended this session because of my role of teaching online post-registration papers to midwives. The number of midwives taking these papers is falling and I find it very difficult at times to get midwives to take part in online activities. Vicki Drury’s research empathized that the reasons mature students choose online delivery of education are complex, and that resources should be put in place to support them to manage this mode of education delivery. Whilst her results told me nothing new, it did bring home how necessary it is to find out what our students want and how we can support them. This is an area that we probably could pay more attention to.
Diagnostic numeracy testing of pre-registration nursing students: an implication for nurse education.
This research carried out by Harvey et al resonated with me because we have just started testing our midwifery students at Otago Polytechnic. Clearly, lack of numeracy skills is a global problem and testing is fully justified. Sharon Harvey found a horrifyingly large number of students had inadequate skills and as a result of the research has developed a program to up skill students. This research was reassuring because it validates our impressions and the program that is being put out in place by the Study Skills Centre at Otago Polytechnic.
A case study of the value of problem-based learning in developing critical thinking skills: a nursing/midwifery approach.
There has been much discussion about the value of problem-based learning in pre-registration programs but very little research in how it can be utilized for clinical staff once they are out in practice. It is very difficult to get midwives to attend study days and they often comment that once the day is over, the content of the day is forgotten. Rita Devlin used five two hour sessions using PBL to facilitate a small group of midwives who were learning about iron deficiency in pregnant women. The midwives found this to be a very effective way of learning and it facilitated a high degree of team work. It begs the question of how effective it would be in Dunedin, recognizing the barriers of accreditation, organizational support and effective facilitation.
Compassion or complicity? Nurses and the Nazi euthanasia programmes
I felt a bit guilty about attending this symposium because it had nothing to do with my PhD research or my job as lecturer and midwife, but I attended purely for interest. Nevertheless, historical research is something I wish to become involved with one day. One of the presenters, Professor Linda Shields has strong links with the Centre for Online Health, where I am enrolled as a PhD student so hopefully she will be a useful contact person in the future.
The four international researchers presented the stories of nurses who were involved with the killing of thousands of people including children during the Nazi regime and then critiqued why they were complicit in activities that were so contrary to the philosophy of nursing. The whole idea of power and control and one’s place in the order of things is just as relevant today as it was decades ago. It presents the challenge of how we deal with activities and attitudes that are clearly contrary to human rights: how complicit are we in our every day practice? The other challenge to me personally was to think about the role of midwives during this time. Apparently this is no research into how midwives took part in atrocities although clearly they would have had a role, especially in the breeding program.
In conclusion, this was an excellent conference and I would recommend future RCN research conferences to colleagues who are interested in nursing and midwifery as well as research.
Mentoring and Coaching Research Unit, Sheffield Hallem University
I made an afternoon visit to the Mentoring and Coaching Research Unit, Sheffield Hallem University where I met Ruth Garrett-Harvey, who is an expert in mentoring. We discussed how best to implement and evaluate mentoring schemes. This visit was in relation to my PhD research which is looking at e-mentoring.
Key points were:
1. Raising awareness – should be for both mentors and mentees. This will help people to decide whether mentoring is for them. It will help them develop expectations and raise their awareness of what they want from mentoring, including mentors. 2. Is best to have sort of face-to-face component – particularly helpful in e-mentoring so people can build a rapport to augment online relationship. 3. People need support and ongoing information during the relationship. 4. Evaluation should involved triangulation ie hard outcomes correlating with qualitative data eg job recruitment and relationships. 5. The ‘definition’ of mentoring depends on context in which mentee/mentor are working. 6. If I am having problems recruiting people into my e-mentoring research even after they have had their ‘awareness’ information, I need to find out why – may need to make individual phone calls and ask questions like ‘what has worked for you?; what could have worked better?; what changes would you recommend? Whilst I have made changes to my awareness information following feedback from my pilot participants, I need to think how else I can attract people to the study-may need to do face-to-face work with potential participants, selling the research.
A very useful visit: made useful face-to-face connections with key researchers in the mentoring field.
American Telemedicine Association Conference, Nashville, Tennessee
This conference is the largest annual meeting regarding telemedicine and telehealth in the world. I presented a session on e-mentoring which was very well received. The conference itself was not so helpful as the RCN research conference, however I attended a number of sessions that presented the value of video conferencing to provide education. I continue to believe that it has great potential for Otago Polytechnic as it moves into flexible delivery of education, particularly to midwifery students who live at a distance. However, issues such as strength of Internet connection and funding have to be considered. Nevertheless, with software such as Skype which is freely available, video conferencing becomes a viable option, especially for one-to-one and small group work.
Vanderbilt University, Nashville
I was a guest of the School of Nursing where I gave two presentations: one was about New Zealand midwifery and the second was about my e-mentoring research. The presentation I gave about my e-mentoring research was to a mixed audience of midwives, nurses, PhD students and faculty staff from both the School of Nursing and the School of Information Technology. It was very well received and I have made contacts with people who want to continue dialogue about mentoring and midwifery. I am hoping that one immediate outcome will be a collaborative paper about midwifery in New Zealand and the USA. I was very warmly welcomed and this visit was of great value for the networking I was able to do and the feedback I received on my research.
Central Washington, Ellensberg, Seattle
This visit with Associate Professor Natalie Lupton and Professor Bob Lupton turned out to be a social visit rather than an academic visit. The value in the visit for me was that I was able to network with two academics that have extensive teaching experience in online/flexible delivery. Hopefully, this will lead to collaboration in the future. It was heartening to hear that many of the principles of online teaching that the Luptons feel are important, we have already incorporated into our teaching eg if one is using discussion boards, the discussion must be part of an assessment framework which ensures students take part and in order for the assessment to be successful, the framework must be very prescriptive. The other very important aspect to remember is that online teaching is just as time-consuming as face-to-face teaching, if not more so, at times.