Journal of Professional Nursing

M-Support: Keeping in touch on placement in primary health care settings

Bev MacKay, RN, DN, Principal Lecturer, Department of Nursing and Health, NorthTec, Whangarei
Thomas Harding, RN, PhD, Programme Manager, Department of Nursing and Health, NorthTec, Whangarei

Reference:  MacKay, B., & Harding, T. (2009). M-Support: Keeping in touch on placement in primary health care settings. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 25(2), 30-40.


Lecturer support for nursing students in clinical placements is essential to assist students in consolidating their clinical experience and making links between theory and practice. The primary health care context poses challenges different from those of secondary or tertiary clinical settings. To deal with these challenges in primary health care settings a project using eTXTTM and SMS (Short Message Service) was introduced. This provides M-Support for students via a lecturer’s computer and students’ mobile phones. M-Support was provided to motivate, support and communicate with these student nurses. To evaluate the project a mixed methodology using data from surveys, eTXTTM and mobile phone message history, and a lecturer’s field notes were used. Findings demonstrated that the introduction of this innovation reduced barriers to timely and effective support that arise from the mobile nature of some primary health care nursing roles and the geographical dispersion of placements across the region. These findings suggest that M-Support is an acceptable, cost-effective form of support to motivate, encourage and communicate with nursing students in primary health care clinical placements.

Student support, primary health care, m-support

A major challenge for any school of nursing is the provision of appropriate and timely support from faculty staff for students during the off-site clinical components of their studies. The role of the clinical nursing lecturer is a vital complement to the work of the assigned clinical mentor in the clinical placement, bringing an education perspective to the student’s clinical experience. This role is crucial if students are to feel supported during their clinical experience (Brown, Herd, Humphries & Paton, 2005; Koh, 2002). Another key responsibility associated with the role is to assist the student to integrate theory with practice (Barrett, 2007; Koh).

For a number of reasons providing such support is especially problematic in primary health care settings. Unlike a hospital setting, the students are more likely to be placed singly with clinical providers distributed throughout the area in which the school is located. In some cases this..................cont.

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