Exploration of nursing degree students' content expectations of a dedicated Indigenous health unit
School of Nursing and Midwifery / Nursing, Midwifery and Health Services Research
Mandatory Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health units are included in all nursing education programmes in Australia to improve students' knowledge, skills and attitudes towards Indigenous people in order to help address health inequities. This research explores content expectations of nursing students required to undertake Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health studies as part of a Bachelor of Nursing Degree at a rural university campus.A cross-sectional survey was undertaken to examine students' opinions of course content of an Aboriginal health and wellbeing unit. Two hundred and ninety-four students across the three years of the degree were asked to complete the anonymous survey. Two hundred and forty-six students (83.6%) completed the survey. One hundred and thirty-nine students had completed, and 107 students were yet to undertake the unit. Qualitative content analysis of an open-ended survey question was used to interrogate the data.Four themes emerged from the data: cultural competence, disease implications and management, nursing care and other issues. Content expectations were consistent for students who were yet to undertake (pre) or had completed (post) the unit. Content expectations included Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture (pre 30.4%-post 29.8%), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health issues (pre 20.0%-post 23.7%) and understanding nursing care related issues (pre 15.7%-post 17.1%). Data findings were significant for enhancing the current unit. Students express the need for a safe learning environment in which to challenge beliefs and opinions.Course facilitators need to be sensitive to student populations and include content relevant to the programme being studied. Cultural immersion experiences may improve confidence in nursing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.