Pointing their acquired skills and knowledge towards leadership work on a wide range of community projects, fourth-year students in Selkirk College’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Program completed the fall semester with tangible outcomes for the health care sector.
An important step towards graduation in the spring, students presented 14 projects at the Nursing Student Leadership Conference held in early-December on the Castlegar Campus. From anti-stigma work with the homeless population in Trail to preventing child sexual abuse through storytime to reduction of waste in the health care sector, 26 students presented findings from three months of encompassing work to field guides, practice partners, community organizations, peers and faculty.
“These projects help students refine skills which are required in many nursing jobs, such as leadership, public speaking, education, critical thinking, project management and networking,” says Selkirk College Nursing Program Instructor Julia Langham, one of the members of the teaching team that assisted students through the projects. “The work connects to concepts they are learning in their theory courses, which they will then apply in various ways when they begin their nursing career.”
Delivered through a partnership with the University of Victoria, students in the Selkirk College BSN Program spend all four years of study based out of Castlegar. Graduating with a UVic credential, students participate in a number of nursing practice experiences in a variety of health care settings over their four years. The leadership projects in fourth year are just one example.
Sex and Education and Puppets, Oh My!
Working with the creative team putting together a puppet show for pre-teens based on sexual health education, Ziggy Cowan and Taylor Ferguson were tasked with creating a facilitation guide for teachers to accompany the production. With an emphasis on healthy relationships, the Kootenay-based creative team of Nadine Tremblay and retired Selkirk College instructor Almeda Glenn Miller have put together the puppet show G-Rated which is hoping to begin touring public schools in the new year.
Fitting into the newly designed BC public education curriculum, Cowan and Ferguson used concepts from a literature review on story-based learning and general attitudes towards sexual health education to create a useful guide to accompany the puppet show.
“It is a highly nuanced and big a task to teach sexual health in an inclusive and comprehensive way,” says Cowan, who grew up in Banff and moved to Nelson 11 years ago. “I can imagine it could be daunting as an educator to be tasked with this without a lot of direction. Almeda and Nadine created an incredible puppet show that does a wonderful job of touching on topics like boundaries, consent and identity that are often missed in sexual health education.”
The puppet show encompasses the concepts of sexual orientation, gender identity, sexual expression, healthy relationships and pleasure. The guide prepared by the Selkirk College students consists of activities, games and discussion prompts to support educators in holding a safe and engaging outcome for students to understand and integrate the puppet show themes into their own lives.
“Sexual health is a human right,” says Ferguson, who moved from Calgary to take the program because she enjoys the rural mountain lifestyle. “Providing a guidebook that helps facilitate comprehensive sexual health education is paramount to the health of our community. So often people think about nursing as just in the acute care setting, but sexual health education is part of an upstream health care model which we are proud to be a part of as (almost) nurses. It was really nice to step outside and into the community and work with an interdisciplinary team to come up with a guide that promotes health education.”
Final Steps Towards Vital Careers in Health Care
The leadership conference was the final major step in on-campus learning as the fourth-year cohort heads into their four-month community practicums in a variety of settings starting in January to gain more hands-on experience. Vital to the future of the health care sector both in the region and beyond, students are buoyed by taking part in placing another piece of the exciting educational puzzle.
“This project was about stepping into a leadership role, and I think that this is something that is important to try on before becoming nurses,” says Cowan, who like Ferguson hopes to eventually specialize in maternity nursing. “Leadership is a huge part of what nursing is and there are many different ways to look at that role. I think it was really great to be able to work alongside our field guides, Nadine and Almeda. They modeled a form of leadership that was creative and inspiring through the creation of the puppet show. They encouraged us to be silly and have fun with the project, and I think that really worked for us.”
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PHOTO CUTLINE 1: The Class of 2023 in Selkirk College’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program take a moment to pause for a group photo just prior to the annual Nursing Student Leadership Conference that was held in early-December on the Castlegar Campus. The cohort will graduate into their exciting new careers this coming spring.
PHOTO CUTLINE 2: For their leadership project, fourth-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program students Taylor Ferguson (left) and Ziggy Cowan (right) created a resource guide for a sexual health education puppet show that is currently under development and slated to be brought into the public school system in the new year.