Research collaboration supports health care in India

November 26, 2020
Large room with trainee nurses sitting at desks and two women standing in centre
Associate Professor Christina Aggar (standing, centre left) is working with Indian researchers as part of her Australia–India Strategic Research Fund Early- and Mid-Career Researcher (EMCR) Fellowship. Image supplied.

An Australian researcher and her colleagues are fostering a strategic approach to health care education and research capability between Australia and India with the support of a fellowship from the Academy.

Associate Professor Christina Aggar was one of 19 recipients of the 2020 Australia–India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) Early- and Mid-Career Researcher (EMCR) Fellowships. The fellowship supported her to travel to India and work with leading researchers on a mobile digital learning program to support nurses’ leadership and communication skills in chronic disease management.

Associate Professor Aggar is from the School of Health and Human Sciences at Southern Cross University and is a registered nurse with clinical experience in aged care, palliative care, rehabilitation and community health. Her research interests include transition programs for new graduate nurses, clinical skills education, and chronic care and rehabilitation.

The aim of the research project was to evaluate undergraduate Indian nurses’ acceptance and adoption of the mLearning program. It was a collaboration with Professor Sudha Raddi and colleagues at the Kaher Institute of Nursing Sciences in Karnataka, India, with the support of the EdTech company Practera.

Associate Professor Aggar arrived in India in early March for a six-week visit, but returned to Australia 10 days later due to COVID-19. While in India she was able to introduce the program at the Kaher Institute and continued to manage the roll-out of the online program from Australia. 

“The findings will contribute to mLearning literature and provide valuable information to education providers, assisting in future program development and implementation," she said.

The opportunity presented by the AISRF resulted in a consortium of Indian universities committing to further develop the digital education technology. 

Associate Professor Aggar said her visit to India enabled her to better understand the healthcare system and how best to approach the challenge of supporting healthcare students to develop their leadership and communication skills.

“Future program evaluations will explore gender experiences, particularly related to empowerment and leadership skills of women. Further testing of this model with Indian undergraduate nursing students will strengthen the cultural applicability of the model.

“This project has been timely, as WHO declared 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife . The experience provided me with the opportunity to highlight the capacity and clinical expertise of nurses to meet the increasing health care challenges of the 21st century.”

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