The University of Hull in Yorkshire, where Dr. Steven Ersser serves as dean of the Faculty of Health and Social Care, has more than one thing in common with Memorial University.
It’s set in a historic port with a strong maritime tradition; it’s situated on an east coast…and it places a strong emphasis on public engagement.
The city of Hull, where the university of its namesake is located, has long been a centre of fishing, shipping and seafaring activity.
Port cities tend to be outward looking, and that's certainly true at the University of Hall, where public engagement is a key theme these days.
“We seek to be an anchor in our region,” said Dr. Ersser, who has a PhD in nursing and serves as an adjunct professor here at Memorial’s School of Nursing.
Dr. Ersser hopes to build on commonalties and natural connections as he explores opportunities for collaboration and partnership with the School of Nursing.
“We are very much into expanding and exploring internal and external partnerships. It’s a key theme for us,” he said, following a busy few days spent giving presentations, meeting faculty, and working individually with PhD nursing students. “We would really like to start some concrete connections.”
That interest is mutual, said Dr. Alice Gaudine, dean pro tempore in the School of Nursing, who sees potential for working in partnership with doctoral students and on collaborative research projects particularly in the area of maternal, sexual and reproductive health. “We see a great opportunity to explore areas of common interest, and learn from each other.”
A key focus during Dr. Ersser’s time with new PhD students was to help them explore their own research interests. The School of Nursing admitted its first cohort of PhD students this past September and while still focused on doing coursework, they’ll soon need to consider research topics.
“I wanted to help them externalize and conceptualize their research interests,” said Dr. Ersser, whose own area of research expertise in chronic skin care conditions led to him being the first nurse in the world to hold a chair in dermatology care.
“As an outsider looking in I can help them explore where they might go in their research. I can ask why a particular area is of interest, and why it’s significant…helping them to focus.”
Dr. Ersser connected with the School of Nursing several years ago, when he was a faculty member and chair in health-related research as professor of nursing development and skin care research in the School of Health & Social Care at Bournemouth University, in Dorset, England.
Bournemouth has a formal relationship with Memorial, because of its historic connection to Newfoundland and Labrador. Many people from this province can trace their roots to Dorset and southern England.
His visit was facilitated by Dr. Sandy LeFort, a faculty member at Memorial’s School of Nursing. She and Dr. Ersser share a common interest in the area of self-care and management of chronic conditions.