Braehead pupils pioneer new nursing initiative

Councillor John Wheeler, Education Operational Delivery Convener was in safe hands at Braehead Primary School yesterday (Wednesday 15 November). 

That's becase he was in the care of pupils taking part in an innovative new project to challenge public perceptions about the nursing profession.

The pupils, in child sized versions of the national nursing uniform, have been working with Colin McNulty, a senior nurse manager with NHS Grampian, who is aiming to change perceptions of nursing by targeting children in early years of education. Although career choices come later, the perceptions of who a nurse is and what they do is formed much earlier.

Colin said: “If you look at a typical nurse costume for a child, the uniform often comes with a cape and hat, even though these haven’t been standard uniform for decades. The tools they have may be limited to a thermometer and a fob watch, suggesting nurses do little more than take temperatures or measure pulses.

“The reality of modern day nursing couldn’t be further from this but first impressions matter. If this is what very young children are learning about nursing then they may decide it is not the job for them in years to come. As a registered nurse I am passionate about promoting nursing as a modern and progressive career and challenging the gender bias that is formed from a young age”

Colin worked closely with the team at Braehead Primary School in Aberdeen, lead by Headteacher Diane Duncan, to develop resources for teachers to use in the classroom.

Councillor Wheeler, said: “At Aberdeen City Council our ambition is to provide the best starts and best outcomes in life for our children and young people. Key components of that are an innovative approach to the curriculum and partnership working. The nursing school pilot encapsulates both of those aspects and I’d like to say well done to both Diane and her colleagues and to Colin for their hard work in bringing this about for pupils at Braehead School.”

To compliment the resources, child sized versions of the national nursing uniform have been made. NHS National Services Scotland National Procurement, with support from national uniform supplier Dimensions Clothing, organised the manufacture of the child sized tunics in Scotland by Haven PTS, who are a supported business providing employment and development opportunities to disabled people. This is the first time ever miniature versions of the national uniform have been produced.

Hayley Brooks, managing director of Dimensions said: “We are delighted to be working on such an innovative project. Not only are we passionate about great uniform, we’re passionate about people and it’s great that we can have a positive influence on our younger generation and their career choice.”

Caroline Hiscox, Acting Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions, said: “This is a really exciting project. As a registered nurse I am passionate about encouraging the next generation to join the profession. By going to the beginning of young peoples’ educational journey we can show them just what they can achieve with a nursing qualification.”

Scotland’s Chief Nursing Officer, Professor Fiona McQueen, said: “This is a fabulous initiative devised and developed by NHS Grampian in partnership with NHS Lothian and local schools, to inspire the next generation of the nursing workforce. I wholeheartedly support the approach to showcase the breadth and diversity of nursing and midwifery careers. We are delighted that Dimensions are able to provide gender neutral child size tunics to challenge crucial early perceptions of what it means to be a nurse.”

The resources will be used in a further six Aberdeen primary schools. NHS Lothian are also participating in the pilot, with seven schools in Edinburgh taking part. Feedback will be gathered from teachers and pupils alike and the findings will be passed to the Scottish Government for a final decision on their future use.​

Photograph shows: Councillor Wheeler in the care of Cara Ettles, Ehi Odeh, Colin McNulty, and Jay Hearle