Service-learning in nursing: Integrating student learning and community-based service experience through reflective practice

09 Dec 2009

Domestic violence is a pervasive problem in South Africa. The School of Nursing at the University of the Western Cape has responded to the challenge of training sensitive, knowledgeable and skilled health personnel by developing a Management of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) module. The purpose of this paper is to describe the professional and personal development of nursing students in this programme through their service-learning experience in the GBV module based on the analysis of the description of the students’ reflective journals, group project reports and a focus-group discussion as the primary data sources. Analysis showed that students gained critical thinking skills and developed an understanding of the supportive role health professionals can play through developing skills of caring, advocacy and a commitment to civic engagement, which promotes collaborative relationships. Some of the lessons learnt from this experience include realistic planning in terms of outcomes, time frames, and available resources as well ensuring support from colleagues for the effective implementation of the programme.