Developing and Embedding a Feasible Digital Health Champion Scheme into the Nursing Curriculum: A collaborative action research approach
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Technology can help meet the health needs of service users and carers. However, both local communities and our future workforce require support in becoming aware of and in using such technologies. Universities must do more to prepare our future nurses but these students can also support local communities in the transition to this digital future. This PhD aimed to develop and embed a feasible model offering nursing students the opportunity to support their local community in health technology, while listening to and learning from people’s experiences of healthcare.
This study comprised three collaborative action research cycles with multiple stakeholders using mixed methods. The first cycle focused on the development of a feasible model and piloted first-year students supporting known beneficiaries to use a health website. Students benefited from supporting beneficiaries. Stakeholders agreed that students could be pioneers supporting local communities but they questioned the form of a feasible and sustainable model. The second cycle trialled a home-visit model with adult nursing students showing a health website to recruited beneficiaries in their homes. This approach had organisational problems for adult nursing students but further trials were deemed worthwhile. The third cycle explored two models simultaneously, a home-visit with child nursing students and a general model whereby students could link with local organisations and projects to support others in using digital health. Both models contributed to the development of an ongoing Digital Health Champion scheme.
No other UK university offers large numbers of nursing students this opportunity. The Digital Health Champion scheme is being shared with other University of Plymouth healthcare programmes to explore its introduction. This PhD has helped connect the university with local organisations and projects strengthening the support delivered to local communities. Other universities could adopt and adapt similar approaches for the benefit of students and local communities.