Student nurses' attitudes to vulnerable groups: a study examining the impact of a social inclusion module

Jane Wray, Liz Walker, Benedict Fell, Benedict
Nurse Education Today 2008, 28 (4): 513-20

BACKGROUND: Front line health care professionals have a responsibility to ensure that excluded groups and vulnerable people have equitable access to health care services. This obligation is stated explicitly in the Nursing and Midwifery Council Code of Professional Conduct (2004). Consequently, educationalists involved in the delivery of nurse education have sought to promote the principles of socially inclusive and anti-oppressive practice throughout the curriculum.

METHOD: This quantitative study, conducted with a group of nursing and midwifery university students, aimed to examine student attitudes prior to and on completion of a module on social inclusion/exclusion.

RESULTS: The data demonstrated that the majority of students surveyed held views that were generally positive and inclusive. Yet, a small group of respondents held stereotypical views potentially compromising their ability to provide health care.

CONCLUSION: This study identified important gaps within the current curriculum and the need for educators in the field of Health and Social Care to concentrate efforts throughout the curriculum on challenging stereotypical views and attitudes rather than assuming that students can understand the complex concepts of social inclusion in a stand alone module. The students who took part in the study generally held positive views and values and the module was to some extent able to shape their perspective on vulnerable people.

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