Translating Evidence Into Practice: The Incorporation of Graduate Nursing Students' Lived Experience of Their First Semester Into a New Student Orientation Program

Thursday, 15 July 2010: 8:50 AM

Wendy J. Waldspurger Robb, PhD, RN, CNE
Nursing Department, Cedar Crest College, Allentown, PA

Learning Objective 1: summarize the lived experience of graduate nursing students' first semester of graduate school.

Learning Objective 2: describe strategies to translate data from the lived experience exercise into the Graduate Nursing Student Orientation Program.

Despite the best efforts of well-meaning nurse educators to assist new students who begin a graduate nursing program acclimate to the demands of graduate school, students in the first semester of a new Master of Science in Nursing program appeared to be stressed, anxious and overwhelmed. An introductory research course class exercise invited students to describe the lived experience of being a nursing graduate student. Students were encouraged to use any and all mediums they desired to capture their true lived experience including pictures, prose, poems, music and reflective narratives. Students were instructed to include only the information they felt comfortable sharing with peers in class.

All submissions were blinded by the instructor prior to distribution to small groups for discussion. During the small group work, students analyzed the data, developed themes and subthemes. Major themes related to increased workload, high expectations of graduate-level work, and managing the demands between school, work, and home life. Group-reported themes were collated on the white board.

This in-class exercise accomplished three goals: a) students gained experience in the qualitative research process specifically, data collection and analysis related to a phenomenologic methodology, b) the exercise acted as a conduit for discussion between faculty and the students who needed to share their feelings of being completely overwhelmed, and c) results were translated into the Orientation Program for in-coming students.

The purpose of this presentation is to share the process, goals and outcomes of a valuable class exercise, and to disseminate common themes related to the lived experiences of first semester graduate nursing students.  The evidence revealed from the graduate nursing students’ qualitative research exercise was disseminated to graduate nursing faculty and translated into practice through the amendment of the Graduate Nursing Student Orientation Program for in-coming students.