Helping student nurses to self-care and develop their promoting health communication skills.

Authors: Mills, A., Rees, K., Burdett, T. and Knight, A.

Start date: 26 April 2020

Nurses have a Public Health responsibility which requires them to promote the health of individuals, communities and populations. Additionally there is a public and professional expectation for nurses to be healthy role models (NMC2018a). However many registered and student nurses, practise health behaviours which contribute to poor health outcomes (Ross et al 2017). Their awareness of these behaviours may contribute to a reluctance to initiate health promoting conversations, while others may adopt an information giving consultation, which fails to acknowledge the complex nature of behaviour change (Whitehead 2006). Whilst there is extensive research to indicate that nurses understand the underpinning philosophy and practice of health promotion, nursing practice is largely restricted to a variety of methods of health education, which has a limited impact in facilitating change (Kasila et al 2018). Clearly there are many factors which contribute to this practice, including nurses own health behaviours, the demanding clinical workload, the lack of public health in nurse education, the absence of public health initiatives within the workplace, and the culture within the healthcare setting.

In order to address this, academics at Bournemouth University, UK decided to embed the Brief Intervention MECC (PHE et al 2016) into a health promotion module, with the goal of improving students personal health promoting communication skills for both service users and themselves. MECC was delivered to 350 students in 2017 and a further 350 in 2018. Both the teaching and initiative were well evaluated. Ongoing research, with outcomes at various stages, is currently underway to investigate the value of the initiative for students’ practice and their personal health behaviours. Early results are positive but indicate that student nurses may require extra refresher sessions to help them to continue to utilise the principles of the MECC programme.

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