Category Archives: Education

Getting back to my roots!

By Dr. Flora Douglas, Reader, School of Nursing and Midwifery

It’s been a great pleasure to find myself at the start of my second week in post as a new Reader in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, as inspired and excited as I was since gaining the appointment some weeks ago. My new start coincided with the SNM 2nd annual Post Graduate Research symposium on the 23rd May. The symposium’s keynote presentation delivered by Prof. Kadar Parahoo from Ulster University set the tone for the day, i.e. as a relaxed, supportive but highly informative event. His talk on ‘Building a Research Career’ touched on issues and topics familiar to me (as someone who has worked academia in Scotland and Australia) yet at the same time, gave fresh perspective and inspiration.

The symposium itself proved to be a marvellous show case event for post graduate students’ research projects, enabling me to get very quick ‘handle’ on the range of innovative research work that is currently taking place at RGU in the areas of adult nursing, midwifery and mental health. The topics presented during the symposium ranged from: 1. Maternity service-user involvement in midwifery education, 2. Use of film as a media for investigating stigma associated with mental health with young people, 3. Health and social integration and service user experiences in north east Scotland, 4. Exploration of notions of palliative care for patients with heart failure, 5. Older adults with functional mental illness and their service use experiences, to name but a few of the impressive range of subject areas covered.

Reflecting on the symposium, and my first full week in post, I am pleased to find that while I’ve been working predominantly in public health and public health research over the past couple of decades, the skills and research interests I’ve gained since qualifying as a nurse from Glasgow University in the ‘80s – particularly as they relate my research interests in understanding the impact of food poverty on long term condition management, and, maternal and child health – fit well here. And therefore, I’m very happy indeed to have journeyed ‘Back to my Roots’ here at RGU, and am really looking forward to taking part in the life and work of this vibrant and welcoming nursing community over the coming years.


RGU Student nurses visit to the Florence Nightingale Commemoration Service at Westminster Abbey

By James Millar

Earlier this year I received an email, like many I receive I glanced over it then ignored it not realising or understanding the opportunity contained within. Upon closer inspection I found that it was an invite to attend the Florence Nightingale Commemoration service at Westminster Abbey in London. After double checking it and – ever the sceptic –  looking for the “catch”, I realised that myself and fellow student Christie, been nominated to attend. Naturally, I jumped at the chance!

Over the next couple of weeks, I exchanged several emails about the commemoration service, and it became apparent that our time in London would also include a student day at St Thomas hospital, and that we would be accompanied by Heather Bain – the Academic Strategic lead for Nursing and Midwifery at RGU. I was also delighted to learn that our flights and accommodation were to be arranged for by the university – thank you, RGU!

So, it was at 4:30am on Wednesday the 9th of May my alarm went off and I got ready to go meet Christie and hop on a plane down to London.

By 9am we had landed at London city airport and managed to negotiate the trains and tubes to arrive at Waterloo station. After dropping our bags at the hotel, we headed to St Thomas hospital to attend the student day, which began at 10:30am.

The student day took place in the Governors hall in St Thomas Hospital and consisted of around 80 students from across the UK, representing midwives and all the various nursing disciplines. We were placed into groups designed to promote inter-practice discussion and given a topic to create 2 questions from, which we would put towards a panel of inspirational personages from nursing and midwifery backgrounds. The panel consisted of Geoffrey Walker (Chair), Matron for Medicine/Specialist Medicine/Emergency and Ambulatory Care at Poole Hospital. Professor Ann Lloyd Keen Professor of Innovation Health for Older Care London South Bank University; Senior Scholar at the Hartford Institute, New York University; Fellow of Queens Nursing Institute; Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing; Trustee, The Florence Nightingale Foundation. Professor Ian Peate, Head of School, School of Health Studies, Gibraltar. Ursula Ward, Chief Executive, The Florence Nightingale Foundation. Professor Greta Westwood Chief Operating Officer, The Florence Nightingale Foundation. Rachael Corser, East & North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, Director of Nursing.

All the groups presented their questions, which ranged from the future of education to practice and gender equality issues. We received answers from members of the panel, provoking discussion and occasionally conflicting opinions. However, any disagreements originated in focus and priorities rather than any fundamental difference of opinion, and the discussions between the panel in answering our questions was enlightening.

While I enjoyed the Q&A session and learned a lot about the differences between the NHS Trusts in England and NHS Scotland, I felt that NHS Scotland was not represented on the panel and that any questions coming from Scottish Students about practice and education in Scotland were marginalised or deflected.  However, the interactions with other students going through their own nursing or midwifery journeys made the day well worthwhile and has encouraged me to continue my own nursing journey.

Following the Q&A session we were given a guided tour of St Thomas hospital, the multi-faith chapel and the Florence Nightingale museum, which I would recommend to any nurse, student or qualified, as it gave a picture of how nursing has developed thanks to the hard work of people like Florence Nightingale. It was also interesting to learn a bit about Florence as a person, her interests, and even her grumpy pet owl Athena.

In the evening we made our way over Westminster bridge to Westminster Abbey to attend the Commemoration service for Florence Nightingale, which was a truly humbling experience. From the red coated arrival of the Chelsea Pensioners to the procession of the lamp with the Plymouth student nurses and the Matrons from her Majesties Nursing Corps, the inspiring speeches, stories and prayers made the service something I will remember for the rest of my life.

The following day, Heather Bain had arranged for us to meet with Kenny Gibson, the head of safeguarding, public health commissioning, early years, immunisations and military health with NHS England at Skipton house. Kenny went over his roles with us and the difficulties facing healthcare – especially in a large urban environment like London – and the technological innovations being used to overcome them, such as E-pens to online records. It was just as interesting to learn about Kenny’s nursing journey – coming from a small village outside Banff in rural Aberdeenshire to becoming head of Safeguarding in London was an inspirational story for myself and Christie to hear. Kenny worked as a domestic in the laundry at RCH before undertaking his training as a mental health nurse at RCH and Kingseat, from there he took every opportunity he could to develop and progress his learning.

After visiting Kenny, we took in some of the sights of London, Camden Market and the street performances at Covent Gardens were definitely highlights! We were then lucky enough to attend a small meeting at the home of the NMC in Portland Place before starting the journey home to Aberdeen.

I would like to thank the Florence Nightingale Foundation for inviting students from around the UK to attend the event, and all the staff at RGU who organised our travel, accommodation and ultimately suggested us as candidates to attend. Thanks also to Heather for arranging our visits and guiding us around London on the second day.

Improving health & wellbeing of informal caregivers of people with bipolar disorder

School of Nursing and Midwifery
Robert Gordon University
Research Seminar

Dr Lee Boag

Improving health & wellbeing of informal caregivers of people with bipolar disorder

The seminar is now available to view by clicking this link:

If you would like to provide feedback on the presentation you are welcome to do so via Dr Audrey Stephen (


Research Seminars

The research team are running a series of Research Seminars, which is currently showcasing the Phd research of our most recently qualified doctors. The seminars aim to highlight research carried out by school staff and our external colleagues, with a focus on health and social care.

The winter – spring session kicked off in mid-December with Dr Steve Smith presenting his PhD study in a talk entitled ‘Solution Focus: What is it good for?’ He eloquently led the audience through his study of the use of solution focused brief therapy by nurses, and enthused with his thoughts on being immersed in the research process.  The resulting discussion with the audience could have gone on all night.  Readers may view Steve’s presentation by clicking this link: (60 sec download time)

The seminar series continues in February with Dr Heather Bain presenting her work on the unique knowing of district nurses :

Heather’s session will also be available to view in this blog by the end of February. But, if you would like to come along to this session in person then all you need to do is contact Heather Nicolson

The seminars run between 4-5pm and are usually on a Monday or Tuesday. Come along for tea, coffee, cakes and biscuits beforehand and be prepared to have your enthusiasm for research lit or rekindled.


Digitising the Ongoing Achievement Record (Scotland)

The school has been busy over the winter months with two large e-Learning projects, one of which has been digitising the paper based placement documentation (OAR Scotland).  The OAR is a nationally agreed document and as it has been validated by the Nursing And Midwifery Council, the content cannot be changed. The Electronic Clinical Assessment Tool project lead was Senior Lecturer e-Learning and Innovation Dr Fiona Work with the digitisation work led by e-Learning Adviser Gavin Innes, working closely with Senior Lecturer Practice Learning Alison Brown and the wider Practice Education team.

In late 2015, the school purchased a system called Myprogress from MyKnowledgeMap®, a UK based company developing e-portfolio and online assessment tools.  Myprogress differs from its competitors having an off-line facility using a mobile app.

The challenge was how to learn how to use this new system quickly and create something that would be used by hundreds of students and mentors (i.e. getting it right!).


Student view of the online system

The OAR has around 300 pages of information and forms with many of these transferred quite easily into online web pages and forms.  The most fundamental issue we came across was how do we develop a secure system for mentors that the identities of which we do not yet know?  Our solution was to deploy all the online forms to the students, just as we did with the paper copy.  Therefore, like the paper copy, the mentor would sign the forms.  However, this time they would be signing the documentation electronically using their e-mail address, which in turn sends them a secure password – one of the features that was not present on the paper OAR.

The continued expansion of the system and on-going task of administration is in the process of being handed over to Clare Smith, a Senior Clerical Assistant, who has risen to the challenge and embraced the new system.   The first small cohort of students are currently out on practice now. So we eagerly await their feedback to see what they and their mentors think of our new creation.

More information:

Coming soon: Electronic Ongoing Achievement Record (eOAR)

In 2016 the school is planning to launch an online version of the Scottish OAR based on a product called Myprogress from My Knowledge Map.  This new system will replace the paper based placement documentation currently in use.  Find out more and see a preview on our web page.

A team of health and information science academics at Robert Gordon University (RGU) have launched a new website which will act as a central access point to nursing doctoral and masters’ theses and dissertations from across the globe.

With support from RGU’s Library Service and a team of international collaborators, staff from RGU’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, have designed and launched the International Network for Electronic Theses and Dissertations in Nursing (INETDIN).

Dr Colin Macduff, Head of Research and Scholarly Activity at RGU’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, said: “This new network provides a much needed forum for exchange of information amongst nursing practitioners from around the world.

“During the past five years our international research with colleagues in Duquesne University, USA and Curtin University, Australia has found that there are thousands of nursing theses and dissertations available online but very few people know how to access them.

“Our new RGU-based website draws together best information and evidence in such a way that it will be a key resource for nurse scholars worldwide.”

Dr Susan Copeland, Information Resources Manager in RGU’s Library Service, added: “RGU is a leading voice in the open access to electronic theses and dissertations movement, and this project is a great example of joint working within RGU and across international boundaries.”

The network will be officially launched in the Journal of Advanced Nursing and with presentations over the next four months at international conferences in Puerto Rico, Las Vegas and New Delhi.