Virtual nursing placement wins innovation award

A team of King’s College London educators from the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care have recently been awarded the 2021 Student Nursing Times Award for Teaching Innovation of the Year. 

This project involved creating and implementing a four-week Virtual International Elective (VIE) entitled “Around the World in Six WHO Regions”.  

Award for virtual nursing scheme - King's College LondonThe project was devised and led by Jacqui Boulton, [pictured, fourth right, with, from far left: Dr Sharron Frood; Tiago Horta Reis da Silva; Joanna De Souza; Sarah Curr; Professor Jackie Sturt; Dr Jaqualyn Moore; Mary Tanay] a Lecturer in Adult Nursing and Faculty Lead for student mobility, electives, and global health. Jacqui worked with a team of King's College London (KCL) educators and colleagues at collaborating institutions from across the six World Health Organisation (WHO) regions, facilitating 52 BSc Nursing students to virtually travel to 19 countries. 

Jacqui Boulton said:  

This huge collaborative innovation arose in response to the pandemic. As travel was paused, disappointment among students at missing their elective placement grew and necessity became the mother of invention!   
Once I had settled on the structure, the specific countries to be visited were determined by my own contacts (personal and professional), those of my colleagues, our established partnerships, international research collaborations and institutions with whom we were aiming to develop stronger links.   
It was fantastic to receive this recognition alongside colleagues from the KCL team and to celebrate this success at the dazzling awards ceremony held at The Grosvenor House Hotel. It has also been a great pleasure to pass on this news to all our collaborators across the globe who helped KCL to deliver the student experience that led to us winning this award. We are now planning to do it all over again in 2022! 

Hundreds of interactions  

The VIE aimed to mirror the outcomes of an in-person international elective by taking nursing students on a virtual tour around the world and exploring the challenges and triumphs of nursing within these differing global contexts. It involved hundreds of interactions between participants across all six WHO regions and resulted in outstanding evaluations from participants, additional benefits for widening participation and phenomenal feedback across the college. 

In addition, the programme aimed to further embed King’s Strategic Vision 2029 and specifically to develop students’ global mindset and cultural competency by creating a sense of ‘being there’. In an increasingly multi-cultural society these qualities are essential to promoting excellence in nursing and a cornerstone of King’s approach to expanding internationally.  

‘An innovative and immersive experience’ 

The Student Nursing Times Awards panel was looking for novel approaches to nursing education that are workable, successful, and potentially sustainable. Commenting upon why this innovation stood out from the other ten worthy shortlisters, the judges said: 

This was an innovative and immersive experience offered to student nurses, espousing core values of inclusivity, equality and diversity. Students were encouraged to take a scholarly approach to develop their understanding of nursing as a global community.  
This was developed in response to the global pandemic to facilitate students’ elective experiences. Its transcultural teaching approaches were exciting and engaging. The winner has clearly enriched the students’ experience and the innovation has great potential to influence nursing education in the future. 

Professor Irene Higginson, Executive Dean, said:

I am delighted that Jacqui and her team have been recognised for their hard work in creating this Virtual International Elective. Over the past two years, the pandemic has denied students the opportunity to undertake international electives, but the innovative spirit shown by Jacqui and all those involved in this project highlights the commitment of our staff to providing an outstanding experience for our students.

‘The passion for equality’  

Richard Harding, Vice Dean (International), said:

Global health is important to our Faculty and is reflected across our research and educational activities. The work by Jacqui and her colleagues can ignite within our students the passion for equality in access to high quality nursing care. This activity really helps our nursing students to become global citizens. 

While undertaking the programme, it was important that students were well prepared before a professional visit to a specific country, as it would be for an actual elective. To achieve this, students completed ‘know before you go’ activities in a specially created travel log (equivalent to the practice learning document they use for their placements). For each country they visited, students reviewed and understood the specific health risks, carrying out research on basic demographics and health challenges.  

Jacqui Boulton, on scree at awards ceremonyActivities in different countries included synchronous (live) discussions with students and staff in international nursing faculties, presentations and Q&As from nurses who had responded to specific challenges ‘in the field’ (including King’s alumni) and showcasing of our Faculty’s many international research collaborations and other partnerships.  

There were also small group book and film clubs which helped to create that sense of ‘being there’. Students used Padlet – an online educational tool that allows people to share information in a single place online – to discuss and reflect in a collaborative way.  

If you would like to know more, Jacqui presented the initiative earlier this year at the King’s Teaching & Learning Conference, which is available as a King’s Education (KED) Talk