Sunday, January 16, 2011

No Wall Too High for RN Educator Working Across Borders in Arts and Health

Article by Cheryl McLean, Publisher International Journal for the Creative Arts in Interdisciplinary Practice IJCAIP,

In an emerging field that finds itself working for change between and across disciplinary borders, the picture we received from registered nurse and educator Sue Spencer taken on a cold January day as she sat on the rocks near Hadrian's Wall holding a copy of the book "Creative Arts in Interdisciplinary Practice, Inquiries for Hope and Change" seems fitting. The ancient military fortification was originally constructed to keep the barbarians from nearby countries and invading forces at bay and is still one of the most popular tourist attractions in Northern England, where to most it is known simply as The Wall.

Sue Spencer RN is currently a Senior Lecturer in Adult Nursing at Northumbria University UK. Sue has been shaped not so much by The Wall itself, but rather by the borderlands, the liminal spaces "in between". It is here where she finds inspiration to encourage and challenge her students to creatively express their feelings about new placements in palliative care settings.

"We live on the border of two counties and the spaces in between are always my inspiration," says Spencer. "Hadrian's Wall and the borderlands continue to be a stimulus for writers and visual artists and I am drawn back to this borderland over and over again. I am starting a project with hospice staff around the use of story in their work and how they can "make" poems with patients and families. Last week I ran a workshop with Occupational Therapy students inviting them to explore the role poetry might have in palliative care and yesterday I ran a seminar with first year student nurses encouraging them to write haiku poetry about a challenging or difficult experience on their first placement. I continue to champion the service user viewpoint in health care particularly those living with long term and life-limiting conditions."

Sue Spencer has found the narrative section of the book "Creative Arts in Interdisciplinary practice, Inquiries for Hope and Change" helpful in her work, particularly the stories by contributor Susan MacRae RN, formerly the Deputy Director of The Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics, who has used narrative methods in health education for students beginning clinical practice.

"I am particularly drawn to the (narrative) work of Susan MacRae, "To be Human with Other Humans, A Caregiver's Story" (pg. 287) 2. I have found myself teaching ethics and nursing in Newcastle and my starting point is from the humanities perspective as ultimately many of the reasons I ended up interested in creative work in healthcare was from a moral viewpoint."

It is always inspiring for me to receive news from our readers and to learn how each, a champion in her or his own right, is bringing novel approaches to traditional disciplines while advancing the creative arts in education and practice well beyond borders. As an educator working for change who is drawn to the borderlands between the creative arts and health it seems there is no wall too high for Sue Spencer as she introduces her work and the book "Creative Arts in Interdisciplinary Practice, Inquiries for Hope and Change " to her students in healthcare education at Northumbria University.

1. Creative Arts in Interdisciplinary Practice, Inquiries for Hope and Change, Editor Cheryl McLean, Associate Editor Robert Kelly, "To be Human with Other Humans, A Caregiver's Narrative", Susan K. MacRae (Pg. 289), Detselig Temeron Press, Calgary (August 2010)

About the book

Table of Contents

NEW! Read chapter quotes from contributors

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