Southern Institute of Technology | Te Pūkenga Nurse Educators, Fiona Soper, Michelle Eleno and Stacey Porter are emerging researchers in Healthcare education who recently attended the 19th National Nurse Education Conference (NNEC) at Sea World in Queensland, Australia, to present in their specialist areas. Held June 7th – 9th, the conference’s theme was ‘Create, Innovate, Energise’.
Ms Porter first became involved in simulation and Mask-Ed™ research during the Covid lockdowns. Mask-Ed uses realistic body silicone props, including masks, torsos and limbs, which are worn over the nurse educator, who then performs an ethnodrama (scripting and theatrical staging of data, such as interview transcripts) as ‘the patient’ to inform the students about their health. The purpose is to engage the student in a process which creates a realistic experience.
Ms Porter presented Engaging first-year nursing students creatively and innovatively using Mask-Ed™ during Covid-19 restrictions: An Ethnodrama, at the conference, supported by Head of School of Nursing (SoN), Johanna Rhodes, who participated as her Mask-Ed character, ‘Polly’, and former SIT Nurse Educator, Mary McMillan, as her character ‘Wallace’ (Polly’s husband) who was pre-recorded and then appeared in the ethnodrama on video and via phone, ‘live’ from NZ.
The presentation appraised what happened on the Thursday afternoon before Easter 2020; SIT students were home-based (with brains had already switched off for the holiday weekend) and Ms Porter had the challenge of engaging around 115 Bachelor of Nursing students online, in what was originally meant to be a three-hour, on-campus, clinical-based lecture on ‘Falls Assessment, Prevention & Management’. After two hours of teaching, Ms Porter began a Mask-Ed ethnodrama.
“The students were craving interactivity and this ethnodrama created a new way to support their learning... they were highly engaged, ... the session even went beyond time, ... it was very humbling, surprising but equally thrilling on how it worked out,” she said.
After lockdown, Ms Porter ensured the students had the opportunity to meet ‘Wallace’ and ‘Polly’ when everyone was back on campus. “The familiarity with these characters created a flow-on affect for future classes. It was not uncommon for me to get enquiries on ‘How is Wallace doing?’”
Ms Porter said the ethnodrama presentation was very positively received by conference attendees, especially the multimodal delivery using a primary presenter, as well as characters appearing in-person, via pre-recorded video, and phone.
“Using the ethnodrama concept to bring ... insight to the attendees allowed for full immersion into the lived experience of our year-one students during that time and transported the attendees to view that scenario from their eyes,” Ms Porter added. She will be taking the next steps in Mask-Ed training and acquiring her own character, to enable her participation in SoN ethnodramas.
Mrs Soper and Mrs Eleno, who are both Clinical Educators - teaching practical skills and communication – attended NNEC with lead researcher, Dr Samantha Heath from UNITEC, to present their Aged Care research, which looks at the preparation carried out for student nurses’ aged care placements across New Zealand Schools of Nursing, and secondly, student perceptions of working in aged care. “Nearly all SoNs across New Zealand responded,” Mrs Soper said, and they also had a very good response from students for part two of the research, which revealed student nurses do like working with the elderly, but don’t necessarily want to work in aged care when they graduate.
Mrs Soper explained they are looking for commonalities in the research to see what can be done to improve the student experience, for example, improving support or changing practices. Having managed an aged care facility Mrs Soper had experience in the sector; she said this was an area of special interest to her. With an ageing population and a huge nursing shortage in New Zealand, the research is especially pertinent for now and the future. “Aged care nurses shoulder much responsibility and need to be well trained. I’m involved in this to improve the conditions and experiences of the students,” she added. What they intended to gain from the research was being able to provide answers to the question, “What we can do to enhance the student experience in order to retain them and increase numbers within the aged care sector?”
Mrs Eleno added a different perspective, having trained and started her career in the Philippines, where she was a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) nurse, she discovered aged care when on her bridging programme to meet qualification requirements for nursing here. “We don’t have aged care in the Philippines, this was a new experience when I arrived in New Zealand,” she said.
Mrs Eleno came to an aged care placement in Invercargill and had a good experience. She was then offered employment by the facility, and when she moved to AT&R (Assessment, Treatment and Rehabilitation) she had more exposure to SIT students on their placements. “That encouraged me to try teaching,” she said.
Mrs Eleno describes the research as a natural progression for her. “Based on my nursing experience, it’s a good fit.” Finding herself presenting their research poster at an international conference came as quite a surprise to her. “Who would’ve thought? [The research] has helped to activate me, I like exploring, and I have an inquiring mind.”
Ms Porter added they all appreciated the really useful networking opportunities the conference presented, “including academic publishing opportunities, gaining practical insight into new developments within teaching resources, and professional development opportunities”.
Ongoing research is imperative as an educator in the field of nursing, she stated. “The nature of the profession is maintaining best practice. Networking and the sharing of ideas and experiences, as well as their research, allows us to progress these initiatives onto a wider platform.”