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What nurses need to know about students' clinical activities.

With the increasing number of nursing programs in Montana, if you don't already work with nursing students, there is a strong likelihood you will in the near future. Often staff nurses tell us they are not sure what their role is with students working on their units. The purpose of this article is to provide some background regarding factors that influence students' clinical course activities.

Each clinical course has a specific set of objectives. Early in the student's career, these objectives are more narrow in scope. It is the role of the clinical instructor to assure that the clinical activities are congruent with the clinical course objectives. Nurses often ask us why students are not starting IVs or administering medications or changing dressings during their clinical rotations. This is typically because 1) students have not yet learned about those aspects of care, or 2) the course has other activities as its focus. For example, one course may focus solely on acquisition of assessment skills. In this type of course, students might perform only patient assessments, as opposed to providing total patient care. As they become more proficient in assessment and move into higher level courses, additional role components are added to their clinical experiences. Typically, the more novice a student is, the more limitations will exist in the care provided.

More tubes and higher patient acuity does not necessarily mean more learning for the student. It is tempting to think a student should be assigned to care for the most complicated patient on your unit. Often nurses will ask us why no student is taking care of Mr. X, as he would be a great learning experience. The truth is, the most complicated patients do not always provide the best learning experiences, especially if the student is fairly novice. For these students, lots of tubes, dressings, and patient issues may prove to be overwhelming and may actually impair learning.

Nursing instructors will typically assign students to work with patients who will yield the best results, depending on the course and what the student needs to achieve. For example, an instructor might assign a patient who has NO tubes or dressings, especially if he or she wants the student to focus on interpersonal communication or understanding the patient's disease process without the distraction of too many tasks to complete.

Summary. Working with nursing students can be both fun and challenging. Student learning is maximized when all those involved in the clinical experience have similar understanding of the desired outcomes. If you are interested in learning more about teaching and learning in nursing, check out the nursing education courses offered through MSU-Bozeman College of Nursing at http://www.montana.edu/nursing/ academic/elective.htm.
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Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Student Corner
Author:Luparell, Susan; Winters, Charlene A.
Publication:The Pulse
Geographic Code:1U8MT
Date:Oct 1, 2005
Words:452
Previous Article:Greetings fellow APRNs.
Next Article:University of Great Falls and Montana State University combine to open campus clinic.
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