Nurses as social mediators

- May 28, 2008

Megan Aston
Megan Aston will present the talk, Public health nurses as social mediators, on Thursday, 3 p.m. in the Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building. (Nick Pearce Photo)

When a woman gives birth for the first time, suddenly there's a lot to figure out. Within the first few days, she has to learn to feed her baby, hold it properly, change its diapers, bathe it, dress it, figure out what the different cries mean. That's just for starters. But she's not alone—nurses are crucial guides in those first few wonderful yet intimidating days of motherhood.

“Mothers tell me, ‘Nurses are a godsend,’” says Megan Aston, assistant professor in Dalhousie's School of Nursing. They play a major role in coaching women to take on the new mantle of motherhood, building their confidence with information, demonstrations, feedback, support and encouragement.

Dr. Aston is fascinated by this empowering relationship, how it unfolds and how it can give new moms a good start in caring for their infant. It was the foundation for much of her master's and doctoral research, which also looked at how mothers and public health nurses are situated in society, and how nurses help mediate the myths and stereotypes of motherhood.

The topic will also kick off a new initiative aimed at stimulating scholarly dialogue in the School of Nursing. With more than 50 faculty members and 80-plus adjunct faculty scattered throughout the province's health care system, it's a challenge to keep everyone aware of the latest nursing research going on at Dalhousie. Dr. Pat Sullivan, new director of the School of Nursing, thought a monthly discussion series would help profile the latest work by professors, doctoral students and adjunct faculty, while also providing a good opportunity for them to stay connected.

All are welcome to attend the new Nursing Knowledge Exchange Series, launching Thursday, May 29 at 3 p.m. in Theatre B of the Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building. As the first featured presenter, Dr. Aston will start the discussion with her talk, “Public health nurses as social mediators: using feminist post-structuralism to guide empowering relationships with new mothers.”

Each of the events will also be videotaped and available for viewing on the school's website, a great option for students enrolled in distance education or the school's nursing programs in Yarmouth and the Arctic.

"We have colleagues across Canada who are more familiar with our work than somebody who's right in the next office over," says Dr. Marilyn Macdonald, chair of the school's research committee, which is coordinating the series. "We get so busy with teaching and our own research, so it's important to get this sort of dialogue going."   
The knowledge exchanges will happen eight times per year, every month except June, July, August and December. After Thursday's launch, the series will resume in September with Dr. Ruth Martin-Misener, associate director of Dalhousie’s graduate nursing program. Her presentation will focus on the effectiveness and efficiencies of having nurse practitioners in Nova Scotia’s health care system.


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