An innovative University of Newcastle program that has transformed nursing students' attitudes towards caring for older patients has won a prestigious national teaching award.
The course was developed by Dr Sharyn Hunter from the Faculty of Health, who is one of six Newcastle academics to be awarded a citation from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) for outstanding contributions to student learning.
Dr Hunter said some nursing students could be reluctant to work with older people due to misinformed stereotypes and this was causing a service gap in the continuum of health care.
"The first barrier to overcome is some of the students' attitudes towards caring for older patients. I ask them to reflect on the thoughts they might have about older people and we then work together to replace these with more positive views of older people," Dr Hunter said.
"The course focuses on student-based learning and aims to foster a positive attitude toward caring for older patients. With my clinical background, I talk to the students about real older people and present them authentic clinical situations."
The response to Dr Hunter's teaching methods from both students and colleagues has been overwhelmingly positive and her teachings have been incorporated into national Registered Nurses training.
Included in this year's award winners was Faculty of Education and Arts lecturer Dr Michael Ondaatje, whose inspiring teaching methods have resulted in an influx of undergraduate enrolments in the newly-developed American history course. Yolanda Surjan, Brendon Murphy, Josephine Smith and Dr Johanna Macneil (see attached), have also received citations. Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic and Global Relations), Professor Kevin McConkey, said the citations were among the most competitive higher education awards in Australia.
"They are awarded to staff whose passion and commitment have made a significant contribution to the quality of student learning over time."
For interviews with Professor Kevin McConkey or individual recipients, contact Kate Robinson, Media and Public Relations.
The University of Newcastle's 2010 ALTC Citation Award recipients
Dr Sharyn Hunter
For redesigning a course on nursing older people that incorporates sustainable strategies that challenge nursing students' attitudes and prepares them for professional practice.
Dr Johanna Macneil
For successfully integrating problem-based learning into graduate Human Resource Management courses, thereby enhancing student engagement, professional knowledge, and an appreciation for plural perspectives.
Mr Brendon Murphy
For responding to the unique needs of students in transition by developing and embedding innovative teaching strategies in the study of criminal law.
Dr Michael Ondaatje
For creating exceptionally engaging teaching environments and embedding innovative resources in newly-developed American History courses that have inspired and motivated students to learn.
Mrs Josephine Smith
For responding to student needs by developing sustainable, innovative and effective teaching resources to support and enhance student learning in head and neck anatomy.
Ms Yolanda Surjan
For sustained commitment to the development of innovative strategies to engage and support first year student transition in a large and multi-disciplinary undergraduate course.