What is it about?

For many nurses, fulfilling a nursing role and career will inevitably mean that they come into contact with the University setting – at both a pre- and post-qualifying level. Many nurses throughout the world have their educational needs determined by and delivered by University-based institutions. Since the mid-1980s, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has sought to define and encourage the implementation of concerted health promotion programmes that adopt a `setting-based' approach. Recently, the literature has begun to identify the emerging role and function of the Health Promoting University (HPU) as another component of the settings-based movement. As much as nurses are duty-bound to consolidate and incorporate health education and health promotion practices in the clinical setting, this paper argues that they have a similar responsibility in the Higher Education setting.

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Why is it important?

Despite the fact that Goldman and Schmalz (2002) state that all health professionals have a role in developing Health Promoting Universities, it is clear that nurses have yet to realise this. Packaged and marketed in the right way, a raised health promotion profile in universities will help nurses to develop health education and health promotion pathways as viable career choices for its students, as well as facilitate further links with external employers and funding partners (Goldman and Schmalz, 2002). Nurses could be actively involved in two ways; either in choosing to go down the health education/health promotion career path and/or developing themselves as specialists in delivering health-related programmes in the university setting.


Nursing needs to recognise that it has a moral and professional duty to support the health of its educational deliverers and students within the Higher Education setting through HPU-related activities, especially from a health-policy perspective. Many university-based Deans, Professors and Heads of Schools/Departments are nurses. They have a particular obligation in providing the individual and collective will to initiate and en- force these initiatives with the necessary stake- holders and partners.

Dr Dean Whitehead
Flinders University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The Health Promoting University (HPU): the role and function of nursing, Nurse Education Today, August 2004, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.nedt.2004.05.003.
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