A new model provides structure for student community projects.

The community is the centre of a population's health and wellbeing, providing the context for primary health nursing practice. It is therefore important that student nurses have the opportunity to be immersed in community development, to enable them to develop the professional competence to contribute in a solution-focussed and sustainable health care context.

To this end Otago Polytechnic Nursing students all have the experience working with a community as their client, with the aim of improving and sustaining the health of that community. Lecturers Jean Ross, Josie Crawley, and Laurie Mahoney have developed the Community Health Assessment Sustainable Education (CHASE) model as an appropriate educational framework for this activity which is suitable for use with different communities, issues and solutions.

The model provides a way to plan each project and set realistic goals. Project leadership begins with the lecturers but shifts to students as a team after phase one, then back to the lecturers after phase five. The model comprises:

  •  a pre-orientation phase: lecturers establish a relationship with a community for the project
  • orientation: students are introduced to the project
  • phase one: students plan for the community assessment
  • phase two: students prepare a draft written report for verbal and visual presentation
  • phase three: students break into smaller groups to focus on addressing one of the identified health needs
  • phase four: students develop evidence-based resources for the community
  • phase five: students deliver a verbal/visual presentation to the community with a written report and the health promotion resources
  • phase six: lecturers assess the impacts of the projects for the community after six to twelve months.

The community projects have changed students' view of "health" from an illness-focussed perspective to one that incorporates sustainability and holism, and have increased their awareness of health inequities for vulnerable population groups.

February 2019