Lindsay Turton is an OU associate lecturer and Macmillan Lead Nurse for Palliative Care for Hull and East Riding. “Our student cohort can relate the course materials to their clinical practice and to real patients. It’s this experience that informs the students’ study. It’s really good to see that light bulb moment when the students realise the theory they’ve learned really fits with what they are doing in their work,” she says. Here she explains more about her work with the OU’s death and dying course for clinicians delivering end-of-life care in a range of services across the Hull and East Riding…
“It’s an excellent way for clinicians to develop in their skills, and by undertaking this course clinicians have the opportunity to explore the theories around death and dying and apply them to their own practice.
“I am an Open University Associate Lecturer along with my colleague Dawn Robinson, Macmillan Clinical Nurse Specialist, delivering the OU Death and Dying Course in a unique collaboration between the NHS and the Open University.
“As part of our unique approach to delivery of the course we have our own cohort of students so rather than all learning individually we have organised it so they are all learning together. We’ve had in the past students from community hospitals, nannies from children’s units, hospice nurses and of course community team nurses.
"We bring them together for four tutorial days and they each bring their own experience to their learning, which not only helps them, but the cross fertilisation of thinking means you can see them all learning from each other. The networking and group work at the tutorial days also encourages greater understanding of the different perspectives of staff in many different care delivery settings.
“It’s a very personal approach. We actively recruit through the NHS managers who have identified end of life /palliative care as a desired course within the professional development process and are also approached directly by interested clinicians who work with people who have completed the course and recommended it.
“Management support is an essential element and the NHS organisations commit to the four tutorial days for their staff. Funding currently comes from the Strategic Health Authority.
“We all work within the Hull and East Riding, and our students hand it in their assignments directly to Dawn and myself rather than send it electronically. The students can ring us either in work or out of work if they are struggling or need support. We mark the assignments together and our marking and feedback is monitored through the OU monitor system where we have been consistently praised for the quality of our feedback over 10 years of delivering the course.
“Our student cohort can relate the course materials to their clinical practice and to real patients. It’s this experience that informs the students’ study. It’s really good to see that light bulb moment when the students realise the theory they’ve learned really fits with what they are doing in their work.
“OU study also teaches people to take time out to examine what they are doing. The Death and dying module helps them reflect on their practice and to see how they can work more effectively, it also boosts their confidence by making them appreciate sometimes how well they are doing in practice. This can in turn impact on delivery of care which potentially improves how we do our work – and in end-of-life care, you do only have one chance to get it right.
“An Open University course in the workplace is good for everyone. It is the perfect way for our trusts to develop their staff. Time out of work is minimal – our students had four taught days. The financial and educational outcomes for the student and the employer are excellent. The employer has an efficient workforce that improves skills and learns to analyse how it makes the maximum contribution, and the staff gain knowledge, and confidence.”
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