Our research into the benefits of volunteering, particularly for students on undergraduate nursing programmes, is leading to changes in the way nurse educators think about nurse education.
The research conducted within the College of Health and Social Care - and previously with colleagues at Middlesex University - has shown that positive attitudes towards volunteering and the many benefits it accrues for volunteer and recipient are being held back by lack of opportunities for volunteering. We have found that including volunteering opportunities in the nursing curriculum - and reflecting on these - helps students to learn.
Research is ongoing to investigate the relationship between volunteering and compassionate behaviours in nursing students.
Volunteering and the nursing curriculum
The extent, variability, and attitudes towards volunteering among undergraduate nursing students: implications for pedagogy in nurse education. This study used a mixed methods approach (questionnaire and interviews) to understand how volunteering is regarded by undergraduate nursing students at one UK university.
The study found that, while students are positively minded towards volunteering, the undergraduate nursing curriculum does not currently support such opportunities due to Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) requirements for structuring curriculum content towards achievement of standards for pre-registration nursing programmes.
An international comparison
Attitudes Towards Volunteering Among Undergraduate Nursing Students: an international comparative study. This study builds on earlier work and used a mixed methods approach (questionnaire and interviews) to compare attitudes towards volunteering among undergraduate nursing students in the UK with those in Ghana.
The study found that, while Ghanaian students are positively minded towards volunteering, much like UK students, nevertheless uptake of volunteering is similarly low. However, the reasons for this are distinctly unique to the Ghanaian cohort in that, irrespective of flexibility in the curriculum, a lack of financial support for volunteering impinges on their ability to engage with volunteering opportunities.
This study is ongoing and is building on previous work but is now using an improved questionnaire to understand attitudes towards volunteering among undergraduate nursing students in China, Ireland, and Canada.
Stimulating compassion and empathy for patient benefit through structured volunteering in nurse education. The purpose of this study is to better understand the relationship between volunteering and empathy in nursing students and whether the introduction of structured volunteering opportunities to nurse education programmes may stimulate or enhance the development of empathy, which may lead to more compassionate care in practice.
Empathy is the capacity to understand what another person is experiencing from the other person's frame of reference, ie the capacity to place oneself in another's shoes. The project proposes that a sample of nursing students experience a short intensive volunteering experience for three hours a week for up to six weeks. Students would be tested before and after the volunteering experience using a well-trialled quantitative instrument that measures empathy.
Derbyshire Voluntary Action
An Evaluation of Student Volunteering Placements. We are undertaking this study on behalf of Derbyshire Voluntary Action as part of its Big Lottery-funded project.
Volunteerism and Volunteering is a topic that is researched by:
- Professor Sue Dyson: Professor of Nursing
- Dr Liang Liu: Research Fellow in Nursing (Middlesex University
- Mike O’Driscoll: Research Assistant (Middlesex University)
- Professor Olga van den Akker: Professor of health Psychology (Middlesex University)
- Jessica Jackson: Research Assistant