UWC’s Nursing School Celebrates Extraordinary Research Output
“I’ve been to many celebrations - but this one is truly unique,” noted the University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) newly-inaugurated Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Tyrone Pretorius, at UWC’s Senate Hall on 25 February 2015. “But it’s appropriate that we come together to honour achievements like this.”
The celebration in question was held in honour of the University’s School of Nursing - and more specifically, its research output. During the last two years the School had the highest publication output among all nursing departments in South African universities. At the same time, the School turned a vast number of students into competent nursing practitioners with an emphasis on problem-solving and critical thinking
“In universities we have a tendency towards binary thinking,” Prof Pretorius continued. “We often think, If we emphasise scholarship and research, It should be at the expense of research, and vice versa. But the School of Nursing is proving that it’s possible to do both.”
“Tonight we celebrate the growth in our research achievements at the School of Nursing. But we also celebrate the potent team leadership that research represents, the hard work involved, and the example it sets,” said Prof Karien Jooste, Director of the School, and no stranger to research herself - last year, she was recognised by the Forum of University Deans in South Africa (FUNDISA) for Research Excellence and inducted into their Hall of Fame.
UWC’s School of Nursing has the largest number of residential undergraduate nursing students in Africa. To advance the cause of health care in South Africa and beyond and balance the provision of quality education with research productivity and quality scholarship, the School established the Centre for Teaching and Learning Scholarships (CENTALS) with a generous grant from the Atlantic Philanthropies - a grant aimed at a sustainable effort to improve students’ research ability and output.
The programme has been a resounding success - research and scholarship output has increased exponentially in the last few years, from a situation where there was no visible research activity going on in the School, to one where publications increased from fewer than 5 before 2010, to 24 peer-reviewed publications in 2013, and more than 60 publications (representing 43 research units) in 2014.
Prof Jooste attributed the success of the publication output, inter alia, to:
the development of research niche areas in the School and establishing research programmes
research capacity development among the young generation of staff with a motivation to research and publish
the development of the ability to manage research projects and research development activities
In 2014, the School hosted the South African Journal of Higher Education’s (SAJHE)very first special edition in Nursing, under the guidance of Prof J Waghid (editor of SAJHE), and Prof K Jooste acted as guest editor. This was followed by a special supplement for the African Journal for Physical, Health Education, Recreation and Dance (AJPHERD), published under the guidance of Prof Oluyinka Adejumo - who distributed copies of the issue to the researchers involved at the celebrations, while Prof L Amusa, editor of AJPHERD, joined the celebrations at the School.
Into the Future: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
“It is evident that the School of Nursing has established itself as a school that can do research, and that also celebrates teaching and learning as well,” said Prof Jose Frantz, Dean of the Faculty of Community and Health Sciences wherein the School of Nursing is placed.
“The Faculty of Community and Health Sciences as a whole has been making excellent progress on the research front, and we hope the School keeps leading the way as we live out our Faculty slogan - ‘making a difference through inter-professional practice for social change.’ Well done to everyone for making this achievement possible.”
The School has learned many lessons which it is ready to share nationally and internationally, and can act as a model for other under-resourced departments to successfully address provincial and national needs in nursing, noted Prof Jooste.
“When I think back to the aspirations we had for nursing when I was last here, I’m amazed - not in my wildest imaginations would I have thought that the School would grow to the extent it has, or produce such levels of scholarship,” Prof Pretorius added.
“Unfortunately, we managers are never satisfied - if we can produce 43 research items in a year, we can produce 50...and if 50, why not 100? I believe that the School can keep up the good work, and grow from strength to strength.”