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Preparing Registered Nurses Depends On “Us And Us And All Of Us”.    

Deborah Spence RN, RM, PhD, Joint Head of Nursing, Auckland University of Technology  
Sharon Vallant RN, MA, Senior Lecturer/Clinical leader, Auckland University of Technology  
Di Roud RN, MHSc, Nurse Advisor, Auckland District Health Board  
Cathleen Aspinall RN, MSc, Senior Tutor, University of Auckland    

Spence, D., Vallant, S., Roud, D., & Aspinall, C. (2012). Preparing registered nurses depends on “us and us and all of nus”. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 28(2), 5-13.

Abstract

The primary goal of undergraduate nursing education is the preparation of graduates able to function as competent beginning clinicians. A variety of academic-service partnerships are being used to support the clinical preparation of undergraduate nurses but, in today’s demanding and fiscally challenged health and education environments, debate continues about how best to provide students with quality learning in the clinical setting. This article reports the qualitative findings of a collaborative study undertaken to monitor implementation of a new model of clinical education for undergraduate nursing students. Three partners: a District Health Board (DHB) and two universities have developed, and are refining, a clinical education model based on the inclusion of student nurses in team nursing. In response to the question “How well is the student integration model working?” the qualitative findings, from a DHB and university staff perspective, suggest that students are better integrated within the nursing team. Registered nurses from academic and clinical backgrounds are sharing reponsibility for students’ learning but there is a clear need to further develop relationships, skills and processes in order to maximise the student development. The survey results, which include the student perspective, have and are being reported separately.     

Key Words: Undergraduate nursing, clinical teaching/learning, team work, collaboration    

Introduction and background

Experiential learning or clinical education has been part of nursing since the commencement of formal training by Florence Nightingale (Pauling, 2006). In New Zealand, the transfer of nursing education to the tertiary sector has expanded nurses’ engagement in scholarly activity (Wood, 2002), yet some would argue that valuable aspects of the earlier apprenticeship style of learning have been lost and that real nursing is more about exposure to clinical practice than about intellectual activity (Papps & Kilpatrick, 2002). Either way, the movement of nursing into higher education has not diminished the importance of the clinical setting as a major site for student learning. The nature of nursing as a practice profession mandates that clinical practice is an essential component of nursing education (Benner & Wrubel, 1989; Mannix, Faga, Beale & Jackson, 2006). It is a mandatory requirement that New Zealand nursing students experience a minimum of 1100 clinical hours (excluding simulated learning) within the 3 year, full time, undergraduate programme that prepares them to be registered nurses (RNs) (NCNZ, 2010). However, as the number of students entering nursing programmes has increased (Nursing Council of New Zealand, 2010), it is becoming more difficult to find placements that provide the clinical experience needed to adequately prepare them for RN practice. This, in turn, places pressure on clinical settings with resulting variability in the quality of student learning (Kaviani & Stilwell, 2000; Hutchings, Williamson & Humphries, 2005). 

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