Experiential learning in nursing and allied health education: Do we need a national framework to guide ethical practice?

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Grace, S, Stockhausen, L, Patton, N & Innes, E 2019, 'Experiential learning in nursing and allied health education: Do we need a national framework to guide ethical practice?', Nurse Education in Practice, vol. 34, pp. 56-62.

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Experiential learning is widely used in health courses to develop students' clinical skills. Students act as models for demonstrations of practical techniques and work in small groups to practise clinical skills. These classes present a number of ethical challenges including removing clothing, physical touch and disclosing personal information. The aim of this study was to ascertain the views of nursing and allied health regulators and professional associations regarding the need for a national framework to facilitate ethical experiential learning in health courses. Ten semi-structured interviews were conducted either face-to-face or by phone and their audio-recordings transcribed verbatim for thematic analysis. Students' willingness to participate as models was taken-for-granted by educators. Risks to students' wellbeing were considered minor and outweighed by the benefits of experiential learning. The increasing diversity of students enrolled in health courses has increased awareness of students' rights, including choosing not to participate in some learning activities. Ongoing cycles of curriculum review provided an opportunity to respond to changing social values, including increased collective awareness and respect for, students' rights, cultural diversity, professional standards, and risk/benefit analysis of all student activities. There is a need for a national framework to guide ethical experiential learning in practical classes.

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