Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

Family Mentoring: A Life Experience

Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

Family Mentoring: A Life Experience

Article excerpt

RESEARCH NOTE

The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of a preservice education family mentor experience on the development of family-centered attitudes expressed by 84 nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and social work students from a private Midwestern university. The instrument, Issues in Early Intervention, was administered to students before and after participation in a field experience that included a minimum of 8 hours with assigned families. The instrument measured changes in attitude regarding family-centered care expressed by students in response to 24 statements reflective of family-centered concepts and approaches. A Wilcoxon signed rank test was used to analyze data from pretests and posttests using the Issues in Early Intervention instrument. Eight items reflected significant positive changes in family-centered attitudes. When total scores were examined using a paired tau-test, students demonstrated a significant increase (p <= 0.001) in family centered attitudes after the family mentor experience according to the instrument. The family mentor experience evaluation of outcome objectives was administered to students at the conclusion of the project. Results from student feedback on the family mentor experience evaluation of experience outcomes also indicated a positive impact in family-centered attitudes as a result of the family mentor experience. J Allied Health. 2002; 31:171-176.

FAMILIES, AS DECREED by public law, have been given decision-making authority regarding breadth and depth of services provided to their children and related family matters. The family has become the focus of evaluation and intervention with recognition that "parents are the ultimate decision makers in identifying goals and determining intervention strategies."1 Although identified as crucial to quality services, the use of a family-centered approach can be difficult.2 Although many system structures have promoted an expert or paternalistic approach, Winton and DiVenere3 and Able-Boone et al.4 argued that when an approach is family centered, "the paternalistic role is replaced with a true partnership model where parents and professionals facilitate one another's efforts and make decisions jointly."3 For family-centered partnerships to occur in practice, higher education faculty are challenged to prepare students through innovative experiential learning (handson practica) that facilitates development of family-centered attitudes, practices, and partnerships.

A teaching strategy at the preservice level of training that is being used with increasing frequency for facilitating the development of a family-centered approach is the inclusion of parents in personnel preparation.3,5-8 In a description of the roles that parents have played in personnel preparation, Winton and DiVenere3 described families as instructors, practica coplanners, participants in staff development, and personnel preparation policy makers and planners. There is a paucity of research, however, regarding specific participation by parents in the development of family-centered competencies or as mentors in practica experiences. Bruce et al.7 described an innovative educational strategy for preparation of students in speech-language pathology. Over a 4-year period, students during their initial semester of clinical training were paired with families of children with special needs for a 2- to 4-hour family visit. In preparation for the family visit, students learned about values and family-friendly language and participated in an orientation session. Preevaluation and postevaluation of students' family-centered attitudes using the Issues in Early Intervention instrument9 indicated a significant increase at p < 0.0009.(7)

Whitehead et al.8 created the Family-Centered Interdisciplinary Training Program in Early Intervention. Students from multiple disciplines were enrolled in a two-semester course that involved families in all aspects of training. …

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