Community Health and Service Learning in Nursing Education

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Improvements In Community by Improving Services In Nursing Education

Community Health and Service Learning in Nursing Education

Whats Is Service Learning,Purposes of Service Learning In Nursing Education,Impact of Service Learning In nursing Education.

Whats Is Service Learning

    Service learning is a teaching method that integrates formal learning with student activities designed to better a community. Ideally, the learning and the service are shared mutually among all participants: students, instructor, and community partners. Since both the learning and the service in service learning are highly variable, they generally resist reductive theoretical descriptions (Cruz & Giles, 2000; Moore, 2013) While service learning has become popular in numerous disciplines, it is particularly suited to community health nursing education.

Purposes of Service Learning In Nursing Education

    The term service learning has been used to designate a type of pedagogy since the late 20th century. Service learning principles have been incorporated in nursing education since its earliest recorded beginnings. Nurses and nursing students historically have learned and practiced in schools, places of business, places of worship, homes, communities, and wherever people gather to live, work, and worship. Community health nursing clinical practice can be called service learning provided that the criteria of community partnership and mutual gain are met. 

    Integrating concepts of social determinants of health, social justice, cross-cultural nursing, family nursing, and vulnerability into learning goals are basic to the practice of service learning (Gillis & MacLellan, 2010; Groh, Stallwood, & Daniels, 2011 ). Other important goals in service learning are increased critical self awareness, growth in empathy, and acquisition of insight into the complexity of chronic health conditions Learning goals are typically documented by thematic analysis of data from student reflective journaling or pos-texperience debriefing.

    The data support claims that students acquire skills in cross-cultural interaction and problem solving in resource challenged environments (Amerson, 2012; Green, Comer, Elliott, & Neubrander, 2011).Service learning projects in nursing education have focused on a wide variety of populations in various sites: older adults. (Ross, 2012; Tsai, 2013), families with a mentally ill member (Du Plessis, Koen, & Bester, 2013), children in school programs (Bassi, 2011: Eymard, Breaux, & Dozar, 2013), and international projects (Amerson, 2012; Green et al, 2011). Pijl Zieber and Kalischuk (2011) describe a shift in nursing education based on two factors. 

    One factor is the increasing shortage of traditional clinical placements The second factor is that in order to achieve healthier populations, nurses need to practice the principles of primary health care where people actually live, work, play, and worship.Service outcomes will naturally depend upon the nature of the service delivered. Sometimes this is specific and easily measurable within a short time frame (Belcher et al. 2012). In other cases, the service has an open-ended future. Assessing the health impact of such nursing interventions requires longitudinal data collection and analysis. In addition, health outcomes are likely to be the result of multiple factors. 

    Nursing service learning can begin with a needs assessment of a particular population such as school children (Eymard et al, 2013). older adults (Ross, 2012, Tsai, 2013), and international communities (Amerson, 2012; Green et al., 2011). In some cases, identifying the needs and making appropriate referrals by advocating for change could be an outcome of the service. Nursing service learning, as with service learning in other disciplines, has tended to focus on learning outcomes rather than service outcomes because of the complexity of measuring service outcomes (Cruz & Giles, 2000).

Impact of Service Learning In nursing Education

    Service learning is natural to nursing with its commitment to the health and healing of people across the life span. Nurse educators and nursing students engage in mutually beneficial learning and service activities in partnership with populations. Service learning is particularly suited to help nursing students learn the social determinants of health and disease, cross-cultural nursing, and social justice. Student nurses can acquire skills in complex assessments, communication, advocacy, teaching, referral, and problem solving.

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