SIT Nursing Students use skills at Council Heart Care Day
Publish Date: Monday, 30 October 2023
SIT Nursing Students use skills at Council Heart Care Day
SIT School of Nursing collaborated with The National Heart Foundation of New Zealand recently, to conduct a Heart Health day at Invercargill City Council. 80 Nursing students practised their clinical skills with council staff. Student group ‘The Atriums’, (pictured) also won the best pharmacology poster profile, judged by SoN educators.
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Around 80 Bachelor of Nursing Year 2 and New Zealand Diploma in Enrolled Nursing Level 5 students from SIT | Te Pūkenga School of Nursing (SoN), in a collaboration with The National Heart Foundation of New Zealand, were able to practise their clinical skills by conducting heart checks at Invercargill City Council recently.

Held on Thursday, October 12th, SIT SoN took the opportunity to expand the day into a fully interactive Cardiac Education Day, which was spread across three locations and  included activities, HoloLens simulations and heart checks for council staff.

Initiated through discussions between SIT Nurse Educator, Stacey Porter, and the Heart Foundation’s Heart Health Advocate, Nicola Mason, with the intention to collaborate on a bigger event, it was good timing to try engaging the combined student group with the council’s large staff. Ms Porter, who co-ordinated the 80 students, said “it went down really well, it’s the biggest one we’ve ever done.” All students were engaged and a greater number of council staff were able to receive checks.

Ms Mason described the day as a really positive initiative. “From a Heart Foundation point of view, it was such a win-win.” She noted the students were sophisticated in their interactions with the council staff. “They managed to have conversations of some depth, to give support and encourage people to think about their heart health.” While Ms Mason initially thought the event was “very ambitious”, any reservations she had were soon allayed, because of the students’ professionalism. “They came with such a strong [health] background, and built a rapport quickly with staff,” she said, adding it wouldn’t have been possible to reach anywhere near the numbers they saw on the day, without student help. “Heart health has been given a really strong focus,” she concluded.

While the primary purpose of the day was to assist the Heart Foundation with Cardiac Health Checks, it also presented opportunities for Nursing students in health promotion, team work, communication, health literacy and collaboration with industry. “Not all students have had opportunities to be involved in health promotion events this year,” which gets them out of the classroom and engaging with the public in the local community, Ms Porter explained.

The 80 students accomplished numerous positive outcomes. They had workbooks for the day to help achieve the following aims: increase their knowledge, understanding and confidence in cardiac health, and consolidate learning from sciences, clinical experiences, clinical papers, pharmacology, and other current and previous papers, for the purpose of putting it all into practice. Students weren’t tested or graded on their day, “it was more important to use it as an opportunity for their learning and development, to aid progression into next year’s study”, Ms Porter added.

They also set a goal of achieving 50 heart checks and on the day they were able to surpass this. “We gained 56 cardiac risk assessments, which was a really successful outcome.”

Deborah Lake, Invercargill City Council Health, Safety and Wellbeing Coordinator, said since the day, there had been much positive feedback, with ongoing heart and health conversations amongst council staff. She commented on how the in-house service provided by the Heart Foundation and SIT Nursing students gave staff a hassle-free model to check in on their health. “It removed some obstacles such as making an appointment, cost, time and travel,” she said.

Those involved received up-to-date information, had stimulating health care conversations, as well as a chance to set personal goals, and make decisions on managing their health moving forward. It gave many staff confidence that they are on the right track ... and for others, some tips to improve where needed, Ms Lake said.

“Staff were impressed with the proactive education provided by the Heart Foundation and they enjoyed interacting with the SIT Students, their positivity, helpfulness and attention to detail.” 

“This was a great way for Invercargill City Council to support the community we are a part of, giving the Nursing students some hands-on experience, contributing to their training journey, and at the same time, providing a healthcare initiative to our staff.”

Ms Lake said the success of the inaugural event boded well for its future.“ ... yes we’d like to make it a yearly event, because it supports the community and our staff.” Council were interested in further endeavours offered by SIT, where their staff could provide a learning experience and receive the benefit of the students’ education. “I will be researching further opportunities to collaborate with SIT students. We would recommend other organisations avail themselves of this collaboration between the Heart Foundation and SIT,” Ms Lake added.

Ms Porter said the event was successful because of the generous support of all parties involved, including SoN colleagues - Acting Head of School, Karyn Madden, Year 2 Programme Manager, Jane Elder, and Nurse Educator/BN623 Paper Co-coordinator, Tessa Ong, who facilitated the HoloLens Scenarios in tandem with the health checks throughout the day.