With apologies in advance for making an exceptionally obvious observation, but it has properly dawned on me this week that writing a blog might have significant advantages for teaching. A couple of days ago I was in class with a group of MSc students, talking about what we can learn from the study of service user trajectories. The sensible thing to do was to navigate to this site, and show people where they can download this recent paper. So that’s exactly what I did.
Unrelatedly, Mark Howard (who works at London South Bank University and who I used to work with in East London in the days when I was a community mental health nurse) has also been kind enough to comment on a post, and to mention that he sometimes points his students here. Hello again Mark, and hello to your students too – and thanks for your collective interest.
And today I’ve been planning a new Professional Doctorate module, and have been deliberately embedding links to this blog in my teaching materials. So what all of this is making me realise is that a blog (mostly) oriented towards research and academic stuff might, over time, become a useful educational resource. I actually can’t think of any other way in which a personal repository of papers, commentaries, onwards links and so on might be brought together.
This afternoon I’ll be joining colleagues to interview potential students of mental health nursing. I imagine I’ll meet a variety of candidates: young people who are still at (or have just left) school, others who are looking for a second (or third) career, and others again who have considerable experience in caring work gained through employment as health care assistants or similar. The range of educational backgrounds people have is likely to be varied. Some may have A levels, or undergraduate degrees (often in the humanities or social sciences). Others may have (or be studying for) Access qualifications via their enrolment at colleges of further education.
From my accumulated experiences of interviewing in this context I expect that most, if not all, of the candidates I meet today will have thought very carefully about their applications. I expect them to be enthused about the prospect of learning and practising, and informed about what this involves. I expect people to demonstrate an interest in others, to be inquisitive and engaged, and to be motivated by a desire to help.
I also imagine that candidates will be aware of today’s proceedings taking place in a context of heightened scrutiny: of nurses, their roles, and their preparation. Cynon Valley MP Ann Clwyd, for example, has had strong things to say about nurses and nursing following the death of her husband at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff. To repeat what I’ve said before on this blog: the fact that nurses now qualify with undergraduate degrees does not make them any less compassionate than those without. To me, the idea that there might be some kind of automatic, inverse, relationship between education and capacity to care makes no sense whatsoever. For those interested, here’s a very thoughtful piece touching on some of this on the notsobigsociety blog.