An exploration of nursing students’ experiences of a community-based health promotion and illness prevention programme in a selected school of nursing in KwaZulu-Natal.
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Background Health promotion constitutes a priority in the World Health Organization’s agenda of health for all (WHO, 2014b). Therefore, nursing students should be introduced to the principles of health, illness prevention and health promotion early in their course of training. They need to develop competencies required for their career as well as to improve the health and wellbeing of the community. Purpose The purpose of this study is to explore nursing students’ experiences of a community-based health promotion and illness prevention programme in a selected school of nursing in KwaZulu-Natal. Methodology A qualitative, exploratory, descriptive research design is used to investigate the experience of seventy second-year nursing students in the Bachelor of Nursing programme at a selected school of nursing who were exposed to a community based health promotion and illness prevention programme. Data was collected through focus group discussions and content deductive analysis was used to analyse data. Findings The findings of the study are presented and discussed according to the four main themes that emerged during the data analysis: (1) community accessibility (2) safety in the community environment (3) learner support, and (4) skills development. Each of these themes have sub-themes that are presented and discussed, facilitating a full insight into the experiences of the participants in this programme. Conclusion Satisfying personal experience enhanced students’ clinical skills, especially in building the confidence and expertise required by health promotion and illness prevention programmes. Students’ participation in this programme developed capabilities such as: creativity; the identification of community health issues; the promotion of a greater sense of community responsibility; the ability to engage in group discussions; the envisaging of professional goals and the encouragement of a sense of connection with the community.