Person-centred nursing education during isolation

Person-centred Practice Framework (McCormack & McCance 2017 amended, in press

Person-centred nursing education, and curricula, value the voice of all involved – academics, students, industry, clinical facilitators, people receiving care.

Only by embedding person-centred practice, values and frameworks at the heart of the learning environment can workplace culture be transformed, as nursing students are prepared to build an innovative quality nursing workforce of the future.

These aspects can be explored, critiqued and practiced in the university environment with people facilitating conversations and actions that can be challenged and supported simultaneously in tutorials and laboratories.

During COVID-19, an instant and unanticipated change occurred for student learning environments with everything moving online. How could the online nursing education experience replicate person-centred approaches to learning that occur in face-to-face interactions?

The online space had to establish agreed and shared ways of working together, to identify individual and group values, to clearly communicate activities, to be transparent in critical discussions and to use multiple intelligences to engage all learners in the process.

These factors had to be contextualised, connecting theory to practice meaningfully. And so required the respect for ideas and diversity, inclusivity, use of appropriate language, facilitation, collaboration, creativity, discernment and flexibility.

These are very challenging to action; however, in the intensity of the online environment, where cameras being turned on is optional, even being present is optional.

Having (or doing) an experience does not guarantee learning, therefore authentic engagement by everyone (students and educators) is paramount to facilitate the learning process. Committing to ongoing lifelong learning, despite the difficulty, is required by all.

It is critical, however, to recognise that in isolation, not all students can adapt and ‘cope’ without supports in place, such as personal face-to-face connection and ongoing human interactions.

Online strategies, to complement educational learning, that allows opportunities to talk, to connect with others, to be encouraged, to mitigate stress should be prioritised to help students feel more connected, more like they belong.

When considering person-centred approaches to nursing education, these aspects are equally as important. Nursing education institutions should aim to provide a supportive environment, diminish power relationships and prioritise relationships in an effort to build person-centred processes.

These begin with educators who can engage authentically, work with others (students, industry, etc.) values and beliefs, be sympathetically present, and share decision making (McCormack & McCance 2017). While challenging, these are imperative – in isolation and in ‘normal’.

Staying focused on people – for and with – cannot be seen as idealistic and optional, but must be our fundamental philosophy, guiding actions and intentions as we seek to influence and build the future of nursing.


McCormack, B., McCance, T. 2017. Person-centred practice in nursing and health care, 2nd edition. West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

McCormack, B and McCance TV (in press) The Person-centred Practice Framework 2017 [revised] Fundamentals of Person-Centred Care. Wiley, Oxford


Rebekkah Middleton, RN, PhD, MN(Research), BN, Dip.App.Sc(Nursing), Graduate Certificate Emergency Nursing, Graduate Certificate Clinical Management is Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing, Associate Head of School (Learning and Teaching), at the University of Wollongong

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