Alicante Summer School

Did you know It takes 17 years for 14% of research to make it to clinical practice?. I recently gained this surprising knowledge during a Healthcare Improvement Science Summer School in Alicante. The Summer School aimed to increase student nurses and midwives knowledge of Health Improvement Science through a variety of workshops, tutorials and exposure to the Spanish Healthcare system. As an individual passionate about improving health outcomes and patient care, here is my experience of Summer School at Alicante University.


Day one began with an introduction to Healthcare Improvement Science. So what exactly is Healthcare Improvement Science?  The Health Foundation (2011), explains that Healthcare Improvement Science (HIS) systematically examines which methods and factors are most useful to facilitate quality improvement in healthcare. Prof. Dr Manuel Lillo-Crespo uses the ‘bled definition’ to explain HIS in more detail.


Sounds simple enough when you put it like that. However, I was unaware of the complexities of this. I did not know that research was interesting. That relevant research has so much power if implemented and evaluated correctly. Research can certainly be compelling.


I found discovering the Spanish Healthcare System incredibly exciting. It is amazing how it is only around three hours from Scotland by an airplane, yet their healthcare system is radically different in some respects. It is important though not to say that one system is correct and the other is incorrect.

Alicante is very family-centered when it comes to some aspects of healthcare and therefore have little/no nursing care for individuals with dementia. I found this almost alien. In Scotland, we get taught a lot about dementia in University, and it sometimes seems that we are not doing enough to help individuals with dementia. However, it is a stark contrast from the Spanish healthcare system. Though does that make them wrong and us, right? It would be easy to jump to that conclusion, however culturally in Spain, it is if you like, a families duty to take care of the elderly.

Culture plays a huge part in healthcare. In Spain, it is common to find many family members around the bed of a patient or stay overnight. Some rooms have an extra bed for a family member. The concept of family-centered care reminded me of the palliative care environment where I am on placement. We look after both the family and the patient as if you consider the holistic care of a person this should also include their family.

Dignity was also another concept where I felt the ideas were different. Here in Scotland when washing an individual, we ensure they are covered and expose one arm at a time. Interestingly this is not the same in Alicante. It seems as if they do not have as many ‘hang ups’ as we do about our bodies here in the United Kingdom. Though it does pose the question: should they be more dignified or are we covering up individuals too much?

After visiting one public and one private hospital, I discovered that were a few differences between the private and public sector hospitals in Alicante. I observed more hand gel in the private hospital than the public. Also in the private hospital, there was also hand-washing signage present which I did not see in the public hospital. It was interesting to discover that some public sector workers get the choice of public and private sector care, with a percentage of federal employees choosing private healthcare.

This trip was very insightful and I enjoyed debating the various topics of the week and meeting a group of lovely people. I feel very privileged to have been able to experience such a fantastic insight into the Spanish healthcare system.

If I could say that I learned one thing from the trip it would be this:

‘I did not know how much time and effort goes into research and implementing changes within the healthcare system. 17 years for research to make it into clinical practice was very surprising. That being said evaluating a change and seeing it be successful makes it all worth while. It is easy to sit back and do nothing because you think it works or someone has told you it works but from now on I will engage in research and remain open to change’

Image Credit: Barbara O’Donnell, Dr Mark White and Bethany Nicol.

17 Year Odyssey: Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research (2015)



2 thoughts on “Alicante Summer School

  1. Pingback: At the Second Healthcare Improvement Science Summer School « UWS Health, Nursing & Midwifery

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