Indexed on: 05 Feb '10Published on: 05 Feb '10Published in: Journal of Professional Nursing
Clinical competence is essential to fulfill the role of a registered professional nurse. In light of the changing health care environment, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the Institute of Medicine have recommended that health care professionals be proficient in specific areas. To meet the needs of today's graduates, nursing education must reexamine the academic and clinical preparation of nurses. This case study sought to identify the perceptions of recent baccalaureate nursing graduates regarding their academic clinical experiences and if they felt prepared to enter the practice arena. Quantitative and qualitative methods were used to obtain data in the form of a mailed self-administered questionnaire developed by the researcher. Statistical analysis indicated that, although the academic clinical experiences were generally positive, there were significant differences in what actually occurred and what graduates deemed important for their preparation for practice. Effective clinical teaching practices were identified in the findings as well. Clinical instructional experiences are viewed as an important opportunity for students to become prepared for entry into practice. Faculty must be aware of effective teaching practices and be supported in that role. A preceptor type of experience was noted to be the most effective clinical experience in preparing students for the reality of independent practice. Nursing education must reexamine current approaches to clinical teaching and seek methods to better prepare future nurses.