Proceedings of The Physiological Society

University of Oxford (2011) Proc Physiol Soc 23, PC11

Poster Communications

The effects of closer integration of Nursing and Bioscience departments on student attitudes to a first year Biomedical Science course

S. M. Roe1, A. J. al-Modhefer1, S. Carlisle2

1. Biomedical Sciences Education, Queens University Belfast School of Medicine, Belfast, United Kingdom. 2. School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queens University Belfast, Belfast, United Kingdom.


A knowledge of the Biomedical Sciences is a well established requirement for the modern Nurse, such knowledge providing an understanding of the Scientific basis of Nursing practice (Trnobranski, 1992). The teaching of Biomedical Science, however, presents a number of challenges, particularly since Nursing Education transferred from a chiefly hospital base to a University setting (Carlowe, 2005). Chief among these challenges is relating Biomedical Science to Nursing Practice. It has been suggested that the best results are achieved when registered Nurses and Biomedical Scientists teach together in a “teaching partnership” (Larcombe and Dick, 2003). In such a partnership, Biomedical Scientists appreciate the context and relevance of concepts being discussed while Nurses benefit from the scientific rigour inculcated during this phase of teaching. Between September 2008 and April 2010, we set up a “Teaching Partnership” (TP) arrangement between the Centre for Biomedical Science Education and the School of Nursing and Midwifery in the Queens University of Belfast. Staff members teaching Biomedical Science and Nursing Practice visited each others classes to ascertain how best to relate the subjects. After this, changes were made to all classes in each subject reflecting what had been learned. Student attitudes in groups attending Biomedical Science classes before, during and after the TP process were assessed by questionnaires rating the relevance of the subjects to each other and their careers. A 5 point Likert scale was used to evaluate the student response to each of the questions with 5 indicating strong agreement with a statement and 1 strong disagreement. In addition to this, there were 3 open ended questions focussing on the relevance of the subjects to their career. Ratings are given as mean mark out of 5 ± S.E.M, n = 110, 154 and 180 for groups before, during and after TP respectively. Students responded enthusiastically in all questionnaires about both subjects with scores over 3 for all positive statements from groups assessed before, during and after implementation of TP. Scores in questions assessing the link between Nursing practice and Biomedical Science improved significantly while TP was being implemented (going from 3.7 ± 0.1 to 3.9 ± 0.1,), but fell back again to 3.6 ± 0.1 after the process was complete (p < 0.05 ANOVA). Similar significant patterns were seen in questions asking about how Nursing practice aids understanding of Biomedical Science and vice-versa, with highest scores recorded while staff visited classes in the other discipline. We conclude that for TP to work, staff from the different topics must be visible in the classroom. Changes made in subject material taught are not sufficient.

Where applicable, experiments conform with Society ethical requirements