Involving undergraduate nursing students in participatory health research: Implications from the Netherlands
School of Nursing and Midwifery
Internationally, there are increasing initiatives that involve undergraduate nursing students as co-researchers. This paper discusses the inclusion of final year undergraduate nursing students as co-researchers in participatory health studies. It reports on a large-scale study (2009–2015) on the process and outcomes of Family Group Conferencing in mental health care that demonstrates how undergraduate students in the Netherlands got involved as co-researchers and how their contribution was optimally utilised. The project revealed that the benefits for students participating in a large-scale, participatory health research are twofold. Firstly, students could conduct a research thesis tailored to their studies where they learn from experienced supervisors through demonstration and the transference of tacit knowledge. Secondly, they meet real clients and gain insights and ideas for transferable skills to meet changing demands in the nursing profession such as activating self-care and social resilience, utilising social resources and supporting near communities. From a broader perspective, the project demonstrated sensitivity to the needs of different spheres (professional care, education, civil society) so that these can learn from each other and enrich interim study findings with different viewpoints.