Connecting Nursing Education Across Clinical Environments

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Karen L. Gorton, PhD, MS
College of Nursing, University of Colorado, Aurora, CO, USA


Clinical education within Nursing occurs in several environments which may appear to be disconnected to the student. One example of this occurring is within the on-campus learning lab environment as compared to the off-campus learning environment of the clinical arena. There is a perceived versus actual gap between these two environments as demonstrated by student and clinical instructor feedback. This has the potential to create isolated and disconnected learning experiences for the students. This apparent, or real learning isolation and disconnection creates an artificial barrier that can lend itself to not facilitate the integration of knowledge and learning across clinical learning settings. To address this potential learning isolation, the creation of a learning environment where faculty members, or clinical instructors, actively guide student learning in both contexts will allow students to not only learn from one person, but see the physical connection of learning across both settings.


Faculty members and clinical instructors participated in teaching students in both the on-campus learning lab environment and the off-campus clinical learning environment. The faculty members and clinical instructors were able to identify strengths and gaps in student learning when the transition from on-campus to off-campus environments occurred. Additionally, some of the learning experiences from the on-campus setting were identified as not translating into the off-campus learning environment and were subsequently modified.


Clinical learning experiences within the on-campus learning lab environment were modified to become more congruent with practice in the off-campus clinical learning environment. Students demonstrated improved patient care practices, as evaluated by the clinical faculty who taught in both contexts as a result of the changes implemented.


Nursing educators in the academic setting should partner with nursing educators from the practice setting in order to make a conscious effort to create on-campus learning lab environments and contexts which more closely represent actual practice in the off-campus clinical environment.