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Health-promoting schools as a service learning platform for teaching health-promotion skills

Du Plessis, L. M. ; Koornhof, H. E. ; Daniels, L. C. ; Sowden, M. ; Adams, R. (2014-03)

CITATION: Du Plessis, L.M., Koornhof, H.E., Daniels, L.C., Sowden, M. & Adams, R. 2014. Health-promoting schools as a service learning platform for teaching health-promotion skills. African Journal of Health Professions Education, 6(1):48-51,, doi:10.7196/AJHPE.250.

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Background. Health sciences students have traditionally been taught their practical skills in community health facilities. However, clinics and hospitals are not necessarily ideal settings for teaching students health-promotion skills. Objective. To explore health-promoting schools (HPSs) to teach Stellenbosch University (SU) undergraduate dietetic students health-promotion skills. Methods. In this descriptive, cross-sectional study, students completed structured reflective journals and conducted interviews with teachers. The chief professional nurse interviewed the school principals. Results. The students were positive about HPSs, but only fully understood its implementation and practice after entering the school setting. They felt that they could play a role in increasing its efficacy. The teachers were positive about the initiative and thought that they had adequate knowledge to take it further, but were open to gaining more knowledge and insight. Teachers and students had similar views on the role that students could play in HPSs, including educating learners, parents and teachers on health and nutrition, assisting with growth monitoring and promotion, developing educational tools, obtaining various resources for schools, planning menus, budgeting for meals, and growing vegetables. Resources required by the schools could best be addressed by a team of healthcare professionals in collaboration with government departments and with community support. Conclusion. HPSs offer extensive opportunities where SU undergraduate dietetic students, and possibly other healthcare profession students, could serve the needs of communities while learning and practising health-promotion skills.

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