Caring and Community: Concepts and Models for Service-Learning in Nursing J. Norbeck, C. Connolly, & J. Koerner (Eds.); Washington, DC: American Association for Higher Education; 1998.
Educating the next generation of nursing professionals whose primary mission is to "care" is no easy task. Caring uses skills and competencies that range from evidence-baaed interventions to the art of interpersonal and community engagement. Research into the many dimensions of health, including biological, social, behavioral, genetic, environmental, and psychological, explains a large portion of the framework of nursing practice.
Nurses' worldviews on health are filtered through the experience, values, beliefs, and culture that explain some of the traditional approaches in which we engage as a means of reaching out to individuals, families, and communities. Given this complex set of competencies, how do nurse educators engage students in the theater of experience and the responsibilities of a civic society? How do we ensure professional nurses are intrinsically connected to their responsibilities as facilitators and providers of health and health care? How do we impress on the next generation that their responsibilities as citizens of a democratic society with its expectation of public service and contribution to civic Ufe are integral to their role as nurses? The authors of Caring and Community: Concepts and Models for Service-Learning in Nursing make a laudable case that through the experience of academic learning, experiential learning, and engagement in service, nurses become full participants in the society that shapes health and health care.
This book examines and addresses the dilemmas associated with questions such as those above and boldly explores the balance of benefits between students and recipients of service and the necessary exchange of learning that requires a reciprocal glimpse into the other's perspective. The editors have enhanced the dialogue in this book by introducing lessons from nursing's history, which helps define a theoretical and pedagogical framework for future nursing education.
The power of this book lies in its theoretical rationale for promoting servicelearning methods in nursing education. The case study approach provides examples of the applications of service-learning to facilitate health improvement in the community. For example, parish nursing is examined from the perspectives of both learning and volunteer experience for students. The practice is described as an opportunity to learn and practice a model of nursing that embraces the mind, body, and spirit. A senior citizen health clinic is another setting cited in this book, which provides an opportunity for students to explore gerontology as a focus of practice and a community health setting as a place to practice.
Well-developed examples of settings that help students move from theory to practice are integrated throughout the book. One example describes how the theory of community empowerment was made real to students. In a community clinic, family nurse practitioner graduate etudents were given experiences in a facilitator role designed to enable community residents to define a common health problem they could begin to solve themselves. The goal of the experience was to increase the community members' problem-solving capacity. Another example demonstrates how a health care organization developed vision and value statements that supported the practice of service-learning as part of their commitment to education.
This book aleo provides practical guidance for nurse educators to prepare for a service-learning approach, including examples of syllabi, curriculum guides, and information used by faculty and students. This information, from many universities and colleges, offers concrete ideas about development of course materials.
Throughout the book, the authors carefully craft key conditions for servicelearning initiatives. These conditions include creation of learning organizations in which clients, students, providers, administrators, and faculty can learn together. The authors describe how there must be a "capacity for connectedness" (p. 35). They describe the importance of having room in the learning environment for reflection at all levels on the realities and problems within the health care system and the community. The authors make a case for using a collaborative model within which this reflective inquiry and practice occurs. In addition, they examine the importance of environments that exhibit shared governance, systems thinking, and resource sharing, including the funding of human resources and facilities.
It also must be noted that through the many examples in this book, funding sources, such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and the Pew Charitable Trusts, have served as leaders in supporting and encouraging innovation in education and service.
Caring and Community: Concepts and Models for Service-Learning in Nursing is a valuable resource for educators, health care organizations, and community-based health agencies. Those who share a vision that professional nurses will serve their communities not only as expert practitioners but as leaders and citizens invested in an enlightened and empowered society will find this book a worthwhile read.