Preparing Student Nurses for the Community Health Clinical Experience: Use of Innovative Strategies in the Classroom and Clinical Laboratory

Monday, 7 July 2008
Sandra Kundrik Leh, DNSc , Nurisng Department, Cedar Crest College, Allentown, PA

Learning Objective 1: Identify student nurses’ preconceptions of the community health clinical experience.

Learning Objective 2: Describe innovative teaching strategies, including laboratory simulation, to encourage student learning in the community setting.

Preconceptions of upcoming clinical experiences influence students' perspectives of the event and impact the learning process. It is essential that nurse educators identify and attempt to understand students' preconceptions related to the upcoming clinical experience in order to develop strategies that are effective in preparing the students for entry into a new and unfamiliar setting. The purpose of this qualitative, descriptive study was to identify and describe baccalaureate degree nursing students' preconceptions of the community health clinical experience. Naturalistic inquiry, as a paradigm, provided the theoretical framework necessary for logical development of the research design. Data was collected using focus groups. Six major themes emerged: 1) feeling insecure and unprepared for the community health clinical experience; 2) contemplating risks to personal and client safety in the community; 3) anticipating a change of pace; 4) sensing a loss of control; 5) envisioning isolation; and 6) interpreting the value of community health nursing. Findings suggest many implications for nursing education in the classroom and in the community setting. It is hoped that the information presented will provide educators with some insight into understanding students' needs as they embark on the unique clinical journey into the community. This paper/poster will focus on the advantages of using technology, including simulation, in the classroom and the clinical laboratory as a strategy to assist educators in managing student preconceptions of the community health clinical experience. Other innovative strategies for facilitating student transition from acute care into the community are discussed.