What are we telling stories about?

Telling stories, understanding real-life genetics: creating a web-based education resource for nursing professionals is a new initiative funded by the Wellcome Trust. The project is led by Maggie Kirk and Kevin McDonald from the GPU, in collaboration with Buddug Williams from the Genetics Interest Group, Wales Gene Park, and Dr Heather Skirton from the University of Plymouth.

The Government has recognised that all health care professionals need to be educated in genetics. With approximately 631,000 qualified nurses, midwives and health visitors, the nursing professions represent the largest of the professional workforce. This project aims to help nurses, midwives and other health professionals better understand genetics and link their knowledge with everyday practice.

A library of real life stories will be gathered from the public and professionals. There is evidence that using stories to illustrate the impact and utility of genetics on real life health care helps professionals to gain more understanding of genetics in practice. Audio and video clips will be used to enhance the learning experience.

Kalbir Kaur Mann is the project officer and she will collect stories by video, email or tape recordings. The project team then will organise them into categories to make searching easier and to help in structuring teaching or learning plans. Each story will contain links to additional information to help promote understanding and engagement. These will include notes for further explanation, points for reflection and discussion within learning groups (including implications for professional practice), suggested activities to help the reader develop competence and contact details of relevant support groups. Relevant professional and public groups will be contacted to help collect the stories and to promote use of the library. Informed consent will be gained and confidentiality protected as required by an appropriate ethics committee.

Initially, 60-80 stories will be gathered for the library, which will be available free of charge as an education resource via the NHS Genetics Education & Development Centre web site.

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