Development of Student Nurse-Driven Tools to Assess Learning Needs and Clinical Learning Environments in Order to Establish Guiding Principles for Maintaining High Quality Clinical Education

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DEVELOPMENT OF STUDENT NURSE-DRIVEN TOOLS TO ASSESS LEARNING NEEDS AND CLINICAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS IN ORDER TO ESTABLISH GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR MAINTAINING HIGH QUALITY CLINICAL EDUCATION

ABSTRACT

This paper addresses two major factors of clinical education, namely: students’ determination of their own learning needs and their perceptions of the clinical learning environment, with the end in view of developing assessment tools to help establish and maintain high quality clinical learning environments in nursing education.

Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted in a private setting with seven (7) undergraduate nursing students, in an attempt to gain a deep, interpretive and holistic understanding of the perceptions of these students with regard to their clinical learning experiences and felt educational needs.

The study found agreement on 92 felt learning needs, and also noted differing opinions among student nurses on selection and ranking of learning needs.

The elements of an ideal clinical learning environment identified by the students could be categorized under five headings: 1) Clarity of objectives, 2) High quality clinical education staff, 3) A welcoming environment, 4) A culture of learning, and 5) Appropriate learning opportunities.

KEY WORDS:Clinical placements, Learning environment, Learning needs assessment, Clinical education

1. Introduction

Clinical education, usually delivered to undergraduate nursing students through clinical placements, is a vital component in the curricula of nursing programs because it provide students with an opportunity to integrate and apply knowledge, skills and attitudes taught in the classroom or laboratory in a clinical setting. However, although often described as the single most important resource in the development of knowledgeable and competent nursing professionals, it remains essential to take cognizance of the various factors operating in this multi-dimensional workplace context, and the impact of these on student learning (Quinn & Hughes, 2007).

This paper addresses two major factors of clinical education, namely: students’ identification of their own learning needs and their perceptions of the learning environment, with the end in view of synthesizing a set of guiding principles for establishing and maintaining high quality clinical learning environments in nursing education.

1. Clinical Learning in the Context of Nursing Education

Nursing education occurs in many different settings and formats. As in most other tertiary disciplines, lecture, tutorial, workshop, seminar, and laboratory are the most common variations of classroom environments student nurses encounter. Clinical field placement is another essential part of the nursing curriculum because it is a period of transition, which allows students to consolidate knowledge and practice skills acquired during fieldwork practice in a workplace situation. During clinical field placement, students are expected to develop competencies in the application of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values inherent in the nursing profession.

Massarveh (2005) described the clinical setting as the clinical classroom. In contrast to classroom teaching, clinical education occurs in a complex social context where a teacher monitors clients', students', and clinicians' needs. Unlike classroom learning in which student activities are structured, students in clinical classrooms frequently find themselves irvolved in unplanned activities with patients and other health care providers.

1. State of Nursing Education in the Philippines

Before the 1950s, there were only 17 nursing schools in the Philippines which graduated 7,179 qualified nurses per year. The number of schools and nursing graduates increased consistently each year. A peak of 14,112 qualified nurses was reached in 1976, mostly due...
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