Using the Photovoice Methodology to Assess Community Strengths and Weaknesses in Community/Public Health Nursing Education

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Background: The purpose of this study was to examine the nursing students’ critical reflections of a community’s health utilizing the photovoice method. This method has been utilized in high education as a critical reflection methodology in the classrooms. As an active learning methodology, photovoice entails individuals engaging in direct experiences, human discussion and interaction, and observation. Although not widely used as an educational tool in nursing education, photovoice has proved to have a positive impact on the overall nurses and nursing students’ experiences. Photovoice provides the nurse with community participatory strategies that are essential in addressing community health problems.

Method: A descriptive cross-sectional qualitative design was utilized to collect data from a convenient sample of 96 nursing students enrolled in the community/public health nursing course. The study was approved by the university IRB. Students were asked to take pictures of activities, places and/or symbols throughout their clinical rotations and then share their written narrative reflections utilizing the ShowEd instrument. The content analysis method was used to analyze the narratives. The community as partner model was used to guide the analysis.

Results: A positive outlook for thriving communities was identified as a community’s strength. Lack of access to healthy food choices, lack of economic opportunities, and unsafe communities were identified as community weaknesses. Students proposed actions for the communities included Education, Support and Empowerment.

Conclusions: The nursing education implications include the benefits and challenges of utilizing the photovoice methods as an innovative active learning strategy in community health clinical learning experiences.