New Zealand: "HUG-ging Nursing Students in NZ and Asia Pacific"

One of the most rewarding experiences of this year of travel has been sharing HUG Your Baby ideas at nursing schools. I still remember how impressionable I was as a nursing student. Both the exuberance and passion of an awe-inspiring nurse--and the apathetic demeanor of a "worn-out" nurse--provided me with images of what I wanted (and wanted NOT) to be in my chosen career!

So it was with a bounce in my step that I entered the NMIT School of Nursing (North Marlborough Institute of Technology) classroom with Helen Childs, nursing faculty, to meet fifty energetic, third-year nursing students in Nelson, New Zealand. 

Students brought cups of coffee to this first morning class and an understandably inquisitive spirit about this "guest speaker from the USA." Like any teacher challenged with teaching the first class of the day, I was determined to keep the students from drifting into the "Resting Zone," and tried instead to keep them engaged with the information at hand. Sounding "like Dolly Parton" (as one student observed I did) helped make me seem interesting!

Two hours was a short amount of time to: introduce the group to the work of Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, explain the primary HUG concepts, and share the impact of giving a HUG to families at this most tender and vulnerable time in their lives. 

After a few introductory remarks, I showed segments of The HUG DVD and soon was pleased to hear a number of "Ahs" and quiet chuckles as these HUG babies demonstrated their amazing ability to communicate. "If only we could learn to speak THEIR language!" one student remarked.

I especially love to share the power of the HUG Strategy, "See and Share" the baby's behavior. Several stories helped these young men and women, on the verge of beginning their careers, consider how they might make a difference in the lives of the families they serve. They were attentive and intrigued hearing me assert, "YOU can be THE person these young families remember for the rest of their lives--if you take a few minutes to help a new mum and dad get to know and understand their newborn!" One enthusiastic listener said, "I want to be YOU when I grow up!" How fun to inspire new nurses to glimpse the possibilities their careers might offer!

Ms. Childs joins other nursing faculty from Korea, Japan, Brunei and Thailand who are considering if the HUG Your Baby materials might be incorporated into pediatric and obstetrical training at their nursing school. Research now underway at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill (USA) is evaluating the impact of utilizing The HUG's online programs with undergraduate students at the UNC School of Nursing. Preliminary results suggest that these materials positively influence both students' knowledge of infant behavior and their confidence to teach young parents. Stay tuned for publication of the results of this carefully designed, implemented, and evaluated study.