It is common for Nursing students to participate in community prevention and support groups to supplement the clinical skills and knowledge acquired within traditional practice placements. Through such learning experiences, nurses are prepared to meet the changing demands of working with populations outside hospital settings and providing public service to underserved populations. Accordingly, a collaborative interdisciplinary research-based initiative, “It’s Not about Food” (INAF), was established to give students the necessary training to address eating disorders and associated issues of low self-esteem, distorted body image, nutritional knowledge deficit, self neglect and impulsivity. The nursing students – mentored by the related professional disciplines of nursing, medicine, and psychology – provided peer counselling to university and middle school students. This involved formal presentations, small group discussions characterized by active listening and respective dialogue, and environments conducive to exploration and deeper understanding of eating disorders as complex social concerns. Although current evidence suggests that peers can be successful in reaching target populations, little research has assessed the perspective of the peer facilitator. Therefore, a goal of this Harrison-McCain funded project was to examine resultant changes in the nursing students and identify specific activities that stimulated transformational learning and commitment to civic responsibilities. In this presentation, we will share our analysis of transcripts from focus group and individual qualitative interviews with upper level baccalaureate students and their mentors. The findings reveal outcomes of transformed perspectives in “being on the other side,” enhanced personal and professional development, inter-professional collaboration, advocacy and activism. These results have program, practice, and research implications for health and university professionals and administrators. The positive benefits related to participation in the INAF project can support peer-facilitated pedagogy and further the recruitment and retention of students.
|Keywords:||Peer Facilitation, Transformative Learning, Eating Disorders, Qualitative Thematic Analysis, Feminist World View|
Associate Professor, Faculty of Nursing, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada
MEd, PhD Student, University of New Brunswick, New Brunswick, Canada
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