Students Experience

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My learning throughout the first year has been helped by an unerring optimism in the value of nursing, and an appreciation that each and every daily interaction augments my experience (Spouse 2003:200, Marris 1986 cited by Johns 2000:65). This enthusiasm, however, has caused an inhibitory effect on my self-directed researching, and created conflict in some placement areas. Whilst developing my role as a nurse, my activities as a person at home and beyond have diminished, as I attempt to adjust to the demands of both domains (Spouse 2003:109). I resent distracting influences, and frequently domestic pressures restrain my desired pace to accumulate factual knowledge. As described by Palmer et al. (1994:40), my learning can oscillate between two extremes, “all or nothing”. Spouse (2003:42) depicts the student nurses’ need to develop multi-tasking skills emotionally, mentally and physically as they are caught between the cultures of clinical areas, peer driven University life and home. The conflicts arising from these settings creates a disharmony, which I believe for some, may undermine nursing as a career choice. The developmental educative process in nursing is a sophisticated and complex combination of scientific, logical, humanitarian, communicative experiences and psychomotor skills, designed to consolidate abilities and produce “knowledgeable doers” (Sajiwandani 2000:51, Slevin 1992:36, Cheung 1992:159). Level one students are progressively introduced to models of self-assessment, for example Johns’ Model of Structured Reflection (1993:11), patient assessment models, for example Roper et al. Activities of Living (1999). They are also exposed to many intellectual academic and practical concepts simultaneously within the multi-various placements. The learning experience is an attempt to focus the mind, and is defined by Kolb (1986, cited by Earnshaw and Dale 1994:16), as part of the perpetual cycle of reflection, generalisation and application of any event. This process is a vital and fundamental principle in the creation of a sound, and intellectually processed evidence-base of knowledge required by Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) (2002 6:8) to underpin professional nursing practice. Eligibility to practice requires completion of the nursing curriculum and qualification, and registration with the NMC. Throughout training, student nurses are obliged to meet educational standards, demonstrating they are: ‘competent, health-orientated, thinking, reflective, change-receptive and accountable practitioners’ (Slevin 1992:31). Proof of competence comes from a documented evidence-base, tutors, mentors, assignment and examination results, and is based on continuum of regular assessments. It is ultimately mentors in clinical practice and tutors in academic practice who determine level of attainment and discriminate between satisfactory and unsatisfactory student performance (Walton and Reeves 1999:44).

The good and the not always so good: the experience in clinical placement – working alongside the mentor MacLeod (1994:46-48) develops the argument that there is real value in the everyday ward experience. There is a complex interface between the lecture-based, group learning, intertwining with the noticing, understanding, responding in practice-based experiences. Here, the students take the initiative to interpret, participate and immerse themselves with practical care issues under the guidance of an assessing mentor. The NMC (2002: 6.4:8) states that as a registered practitioner, a nurse has a duty to facilitate students of nursing, to develop their competence, that is, they have a responsibility to assist in their training. This however, makes an assumption based on point 6.1, that the mentor has, to the best of their abilities, kept-up in learning skills and competencies required to develop their own performance. In all forms of mentored “supervision”, the personalities and experiences of each staff member and student will...
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