Enhancing nursing students’ clinical placement experiences: a quality improvement project
Fahy, K, Parsons, K & Mitchell, A 2006, 'Enhancing nursing students’ clinical placement experiences: a quality improvement project', Contemporary Nurse, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 58-71.
Clinical experience is recognised as the core of nursing education. Quality clinical placements across a variety of venues are vital to the development of capable and competent professionals. However there is evidence, both anecdotal and empirical, suggesting that students' clinical placement experiences are fraught with problems. The quality improvement project described in this paper aimed to improve the clinical learning experience of nursing students by strengthening communication and partnerships between the university and the two local health services. To achieve this goal, clinicians' perceptions of the problems related to clinical placements and their recommendations for improvement were explored. Focus groups, brainstorming sessions, personal interviews and surveys were used to collect qualitative and quantitative data. Problems and priority issues were identified as more than five hundred clinicians expressed their concerns, claims and issues.
Key findings from the project are described under five themes: communication breakdown between the university and clinicians; mentorship; preparation for clinical placements; clinical competence; and graduates' readiness for practice.
Utilising a quality improvement framework this project promoted vigorous debate and dialogue between university and health service partners. The nature and extent of the problems surrounding clinical placements were examined, high priority issues targeted for improvement, and the subsequent results measured through feedback from clinicians and students. The success of this project, although impressive in the early stages, will depend upon ongoing communication and evaluation to ensure sustainability of the improvements made