223373 Using nursing theories to incorporate community service and learning activities into a graduate nursing course

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 : 8:50 AM - 9:10 AM

Mary Ellen T. Miller, PhD, RN , Department of Nursing and Health, De Sales University, Center Valley, PA
Community Service and Learning (CSL) is defined as a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service, instruction, and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility and strengthen communities (National Service Learning Clearinghouse, 2008). Broader implications of service learning include interpersonal, social, and moral development, as well as increased awareness of community, national, and global problems (Hayes 2009) thereby fostering social justice. Since the 1970's, colleges and universities have implemented CSL into undergraduate curricula. Less common is integrating CSL activities in graduate courses. This educational practice is imperative because practicing nurses must have the opportunity to look beyond the narrow boundaries of their own life experiences. CSL also provides a venue to prepare graduate students for progressive leadership in the community. This paper explores the implementation of a CSL component into a graduate course: Nursing Theories in Practice. Service learning projects must be relevant to course objectives and students must engage in reflection on the benefits of service learning from theoretical, personal, and community perspectives. One purpose of incorporating a CSL component into a graduate nursing course is to provide a genuine experience whereby students apply theoretical content to a community setting. Post service, students write a narrative paper, including what nursing or middle range theorist is relevant to their chosen service activity. For example, Margaret's Newman Theory of Health Expanding Consciousness applies to service learning. Both students, as well as the community served, are transformed by the encounter. Faculty benefit from CSL by serving as mentors and role models, and have the opportunity to link an academic area of interest with unmet community needs. Faculty also provide direction and guidance for students aspiring to become responsible civic professionals. Student reflections regarding application of nursing theory, personal gains associated with service learning projects, future intent to perform service learning in their own community and replication strategies are also included.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education
Public health or related nursing

Learning Objectives:
Describe Community Service and Learning. Assess nursing theories appropriate for CSL activities. Design CSL activities for graduate curricula. Evaluate possible reflection activites post service learning.

Keywords: Service Learning, Nursing Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an Assistant Professor at a school of nursing. I have over 10 years of experience implenting community service and learning into undergraduate and graduate curricula.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.