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Clinical Practicum program

Senior Level Clinical Practicum

Advanced Specialty Practicum Education

When I began my practicum with my preceptor at one of the clinical settings at a teaching hospital, instantly an impression came into my mind that it wont be difficult for her to supervise young students. However, I found that my assumption was completely contrary. It was not an easy task for her to facilitate novice students. Not only this, but also, I felt that I had the same understanding as hers. Since I haven’t got an opportunity to interact with young students, I didn’t know that it will be challenging to teach them. So far, I have only dealt with my peers and have mentored only those nursing students who already have completed their years of nursing education.

I sensed that the students were young in the field of nursing education, fresh with the spirit of youth, and not mature enough to take the lead in self-directed learning. My preceptor, on the other hand, is enriched in her knowledge and has a strong grounding in its dissemination to adult and practiced learners because she had taught and mentored them. It seemed that her teaching learning style is such that is better understood by those students who must have had at least some practical experience of working with patients at their bedsides.

It meant that I will get an opportunity to observe the art and the skill of imparting nursing knowledge and skills from the one who is experienced in teaching adult students to the ones who are young and inexperienced of working at the practice site. I will get an understanding of this process of coming down to the level of the students’ understanding for their effective learning and also will be able to observe the challenges that both the students and the faculty come across. Therefore, during the clinical week, I kept observing and discussing with my preceptor on the same.

Clinical Practicum program

Before she interacted with the students at the clinical day, she had assumed that they will come prepared for the clinical; with their learning objectives, and an understanding about how the clinical faculty will facilitate them in their optimum learning. She anticipated that they already knew the structural layout of the clinical area, the shift-based functioning of the unit, the placement of the patient’s documentation records in their bedside and confidential files, the ways to effectively communicate on telephone, and the skills to access computers to extract patient e-records. Not only this, but also she expected that they know how to explore alternative resources if traditional theoretical knowledge and practices cannot be implemented. However, on the clinical day, I found out that most of her expectations were not met as the students did not come prepared for their clinical learning. I thought that this might upset her, but it was pleasing to know that she took it positively and asked me to reflect. Both of us reflected on the reasons and then we discussed as how to plan our day.

I shared with her that she had assumed this because she had come up with a mindset of adult learning. Recently, she had taught post RN students on a blended learning format where the students take responsibility of their learning on their own. She has expected the same ownership from the novice students but I think that for the newcomers, it is the faculty’s responsibility to ingrain in them the meaning and the desire of “self-directed learning”. Since they are the beginners, they would need more assistance than is required from a senior student. I felt that at that time, it was important to assess the audience to which the clinical facilitation was offered; the novice students.

I also felt that the student-faculty connection was missing. We should have had an initial meeting with them to share that learning will take place if both the student and the faculty will collaborate and participate. As Spurr (2010) also highlights that student-faculty relationship is important so as to aware them they are equal participants of their learning.

Therefore, we called a meeting with them, assigned patients to them, and shared what they were expected to know and learn throughout the course of the clinical, and the assessment criteria. Here, we overlooked the important aspect of inquiring from students about their needs and concerns. As expected, whatever we told them, they were not able to accomplish the other day. We again reflected and analyzed that the students’ concerns were not entertained. I was surprised from our approach. It was difficult to accept that how this important aspect was neglected despite we had discussed on student-faculty partnership a day before. It may be because we were still not able to come out of that frame of mind of “adult-approach of learning” and subconsciously had assumed that the students would first find solutions themselves and then will ask for help if the problem cannot be solved.

Then we asked students to share their anxieties and concerns. They replied that they have to adjust to the clinical placement, the faculty expectations, and were fearful about their assessments. Some of the similar student-concerns of uncertainties, fears, and faculty approach are mentioned by Killam and Heerschap (2012). We realized that teaching pedagogies should be modified as per individualized student needs for their effective learning. We then guided them as per their needs with ongoing feedback and the outcome was positive; they had started to take the lead in their learning and shared their concerns without fear. The efforts are already stared and the outcomes will be better analyzed the next week. It was our learning for the next time. When I will interact with the students in the next week, I will communicate with them, explore their concerns, and guide according to individual needs.

Post-clinical practicum

At the end of the clinical, I re-reflected to whatever happened. Although the students were guided on the right tract and the problem was resolved, but then other thoughts came into my mind: Whatever that happened; was it because of being used to the “adult learning approach” or because the faculty was not much interested to teach novice students? Was she forced to teach them by the institution’s leader? Was she over worked? Being an assistant professor, has she had any other commitment or assignment? If so, should student’s learning be affected because of those?

I think that being at a senior faculty position, teaching, clinical practice, research, and other commitments are sufficient for a faculty to perform. This was an added responsibility for which the faculty was not prepared. It might then be difficult for her to balance and might have led to dissatisfaction. As Candela, Gutierrez, and Keating (2012) mentions, for job satisfaction among faculty, organization leader’s influence, educational activities, role ambiguity and conflict are important factors (p.2). If she would have been told about facilitating students at the clinical earlier, her approach might have been different; she would have come prepared with no presumptions about the students, and with satisfaction.

Though under such circumstances, student’s learning could have been compromised, she tried not to give such impression to the students and we planned for helping the students’ learn effectively.

For the next time, it is important that if changes are planned in faculty’s assignments, it should be reported earlier to them and if reluctance is foreseen, then negotiation between the faculty and the head should be encouraged. It will result in faculty satisfaction and student’s productive academic outcome.

clinical practicum

Clinical Practicum program

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