Revealing student nurses' perceptions of human dignity through curriculum co-design

Munoz, Sarah-Anne and Macaden, Leah and Kyle, Richard and Webster, Elaine (2017) Revealing student nurses' perceptions of human dignity through curriculum co-design. Social Science and Medicine, 174. pp. 1-8. ISSN 0277-9536 (

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Dignity is a slippery concept to define – yet it has been at the heart of media and policy debates around the provision of health and social care in recent years; particularly in the United Kingdom following the Mid-Staffordshire scandal and subsequent Francis Inquiry. This paper considers the concept of dignity in care from the perspective of student nurses. Thus, it allows us to discuss how professional nurses-to-be conceptualise dignity and also how they consider it should/could be taught at undergraduate and postgraduate levels of training, and as part of their Continuing Professional Development. It is only through understanding how student nurses conceptualise and experience human dignity, and the giving and receiving of dignity in care, that it will be possible to support its facilitation in the preparation of practitioners. This paper reports on findings from a series of participatory research workshops held with undergraduate nursing students in Scotland in 2013–14 that were designed to engage the students in the development of educational resources to support the teaching of dignity in care within the nursing curriculum. The outputs from each workshop, along with analysis of transcripts of the workshop discussions, demonstrate the value of co-design as a methodology for involving students in the development of interdisciplinary resources. We observed a desire from students to actively enhance their understandings of dignity – to be able to recognise it; to see dignity in care being practiced; to experience providing such care and to have the appropriate tools to reflect on their own experience. Overall, the research revealed a rich understanding of the ways in which human dignity is conceptualised by nursing students as an embodied practice, associated with memory and personal to an individual. It was understood by the students as shifting, experiential and fragile.