Teaching First Aid in high schools: The impact on EDP Health Sciences students

  • Alwyn Louw Stellenbosch University
  • Martie van Heusden Stellenbosch University


BACKGROUND In the past, first-year Medical and Physiotherapy students participating in the Extended Degree Programme (EDP) spent eight weeks shadowing interns in a tertiary hospital during a clinical module. In 2011 student numbers had doubled from the previous year making it impossible to accommodate the entire group in the clinical setting. Consequently, the group was divided in two, allowing one group to participate in a Service Learning project while the other group spent four weeks in the clinical setting as before. The two groups switched after four weeks. METHODS A qualitative approach was used to determine students’ perceptions of the Service Learning project. Data was obtained from structured reflective reports about student experiences of the one-week period during which they taught First Aid to high school learners. Open-ended, written response questionnaires completed by students at the end of the four-week Service Learning project generated further useful data regarding the logistics and administration of the project as a whole. RESULTS Similar to findings reported in international studies, analysis of qualitative data indicated an increase in student motivation in terms of their studies and vocation, an enhanced sense of civic responsibility and social justice, improved group interaction and personal communication skills, as well as increased compassion and decreased racism. DISCUSSION Besides gaining First Aid knowledge and skills, students spent time with a community they might not necessarily have encountered under normal circumstances. They became increasingly aware of the population they would be serving once they graduated, and of their role as professionals within this community. CONCLUSION A Service Learning teaching strategy may contribute towards producing service-driven and culturally competent physicians and community leaders. In the words of one EDP student, '... there are lessons one needs to experience rather than to be taught.'
How to Cite
Louw, Alwyn, and Martie van Heusden. 2016. “Teaching First Aid in High Schools: The Impact on EDP Health Sciences Students”. South African Journal of Higher Education 29 (1). https://doi.org/10.20853/29-1-451.
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