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Published: 2023-09-21

Good communication – A and O in healthcare

PROFILE Communicating clearly is generally important, but in the nurse's field vital. It can be the communication between colleagues, as well as between healthcare professionals and patients or relatives. Communication is now secured as a strong track throughout the nursing program.

Text: Lena Åminne
Image: Mattias Pettersson

Åsa Carlsund, district nurse and university teacher with a PhD, has a special interest in communication and pedagogy - how we express ourselves in speech and writing so that it becomes correct and understandable. In healthcare, it concerns everything from communication between colleagues to correctly documenting in the patient journal or giving the patient advice that he or she understands.

“This may include, for example, giving a patient who has received a urostomy advice and instructions before returning home i.e., that the patient understands and can follow the instructions. Nowadays, patients are often early discharged, which can mean that they have extensive personal responsibility for their care,” says Åsa Carlsund.

It can also include writing an epacris, a final note in the patient's journal so that there are no errors in the next step in the chain, for example if the patient should go to a physiotherapist.

Innovate and rethink

Åsa Carlsund's interest in pedagogy was awakened already when she worked with children at preschool and she began to seek out literature on academic reading and writing. Her interest has since followed her through nursing education, specialist training and doctoral studies to the role of teacher and researcher.

I had many thoughts about how we could renew and rethink our working methods

Previously, Åsa worked as a teacher at Mid Sweden University and was then responsible for the district nursing education, which just before the pandemic became completely digital.

“When we conducted teaching at a distance and met students without meeting them physically, I had many thoughts about how we could renew and rethink our working methods. It could be reflections on situations with many courses, many students, teachers, and shortcomings in transparency between courses.” 

Where do we want to go?

When Åsa participated in the project Skrivlyftet at Mid Sweden University, she saw the opportunity to try to look beyond shortcomings and instead look at the current situation and future desired situation – what do we have and where do we want to go?

And when she came to Umeå University in the autumn of 2022, the opportunity opened to continue the work begun in the Skrivum project.

Important with progression

Åsa and three of her colleagues at the Department of Nursing participated in Skrivum to deepen their knowledge of how they can support students' writing and reading throughout their education.

She emphasizes that it is extremely important that a progression of both academic writing and professional writing is built in - which Åsa Carlsund believes are intertwined and interdependent - so that students can meet society's demands for competent nurses when they enter healthcare.

The aim is to strengthen students in both academic and professional reading and writing.

“How can we create a progression in both professional and academic writing during nursing education? It is about being able to document in a way that is understandable to patients and to colleagues in academia and healthcare.” 

Mapping of the current situation

In this work, the colleagues look at the requirements of different courses in nursing education.

we could see that peer feedback is rare

With a survey to course coordinators, they have identified what the work with and progression for reading and writing looks like within the courses. What writing assignments are available within the course, the framing around the assignment, the teacher's preparation, planning and implementation of the writing assignment and then how the assignment is followed up and assessed.

"For example, we could see that peer feedback is rare, that teachers read and give summative feedback, and that some assessment matrices can possibly be difficult to follow for students.” 

It also emerged from the responses that the majority of the courses in current nursing education, need to develop expected learning outcomes with a focus on academic writing and that all courses need to develop expected learning outcomes with a focus on professional writing.

Plan of progression

One result of the project is that intended learning outcomes for reading and writing elements are included in the new programme syllabus and in the syllabi in order to create progression throughout the programme. A working group is working on this.

And in one of the courses in semester 1, for example, the work and instructions for the examination need to be clearer for the students, this applies to both structure and wording.

The long-term goal is to develop a progression plan for both academic and professional writing throughout the education and to produce expected learning outcomes for these.

More about Åsa Carlsund

Lives: Umeå
Comes from: Östersund
Family: Husband and two children
Hobbies: Cross-country skiing, cycling, walking in the woods, fixing old furniture, sewing clothes, and reading