From the year of the Nurse and Midwife to the future of health sciences education

Year 2020, The International year of the nurse and the midwife, was extraordinary in many ways and year 2021 seems to follow the footsteps of its predecessor. Not only health care and social services were affected by the current pandemic started in Wuhan at the end of 2019, but all the fields of work on society have had to learn new ways to proceed. Nurses have been overworked both locally and globally and the students in health care sector have been called to step in prior graduation to help manage the unusual situation trying each country.

Education has not been an exception and the digital leap that has been under preparation was taken in the spring of 2020 when the majority of the countries opted for distance learning as a measure to control the spread of the vile covid-19 virus. In addition, social services, health sciences and rehabilitation education took extraordinary steps to guarantee education that serves both, the protection of the public health in current situation and in the future, when the current students, will enter working life.

Whereas the year 2020 will be remembered as the year of chaos, the year of challenges and the year of both financial and human tragedies, it will also be remembered as the year of positive change. Attitudes towards distance working have changed in almost all fields with both employers and employees. New strategies have been developed and finessed. Educational institutions have been forced to provide digital and distance learning which has brought forward massive amount of understanding regarding the pros and cons of distance and contact learning.

Image: Mark Mags, Pixabay

Health care students have been mostly happy with the distance learning and educators have found more innovative ways to produce digital distance learning opportunities. Loneliness and feeling of isolation have been part of the pandemic, but mostly due to all social relations being on hold due to the pandemic, not merely because of the distance learning.

Being an educator in the fields of social and health sciences does not only mean keeping up with the latest updates in the field, but also foreseeing the needs of the future. The professionals they are educating need to be prepared for the challenges of the future. This does not mean that the educators would have to predict the specific needs, like future pandemics or sudden natural catastrophes. However, they need to provide education that empowers the future professionals with knowledge, skills and attitudes that enable adaptation in the rapidly changing world whilst remembering the core of the profession, the patient or the client, who needs help.

Cooperation and collaboration are important assets for educators. The times of Da Vinci and other polymaths is long gone. There is just simply too much information and knowledge in the modern society for anyone to master more than a tiny slice of it. Distance working and education may enable more elaborate ways for collaboration and cooperation among educators. When distance is no longer considered an obstacle collaboration partners may be found more flexibly and networking may become even more important, than it is today.

Could networking be the solution that would ease the burden of keeping up with the future? Could we improve the learning outcomes and release burden from individual educators simultaneously? Creating learning material for online education is a demanding task that requires long hours of preparation. Could networking and collaboration between educational institutions be the solution?

A New Agenda for Nurse Educator Education in Europe (New Nurse Educator) project believes so. The project is a collaboration project of seven universities from six countries. One of the goals of the project is to develop an international nurse educator education programme, which is mainly implemented online. When successful, it could be utilized all over Europe for educator education. Projects and collaboration like this are possible in all fields of social- and health sciences education.  

You may join us on our journey and follow us on our webpage: https://new-nurse-educator.utu.fi/

Imane Elonen

Iina Ryhtä

Leena Salminen, University of Turku

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