Growing the Flowers: Preparing Undergraduate Nursing Students for a Community Healthcare Placement in a Neoliberal Economy

Friday, 25 July 2014: 2:10 PM

Eleanor S. Horton, RN, ADN, BHlthSc (Nsg), MHlthSc (Nsg)PhD
School of Nursing & Midwifery, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, Australia


Our objective was to engage and develop initiatives with our community partners to better prepare our nursing students for a community clinical placement in their Undergraduate Nursing Degree program thus increasing our clinical placements and stimulating students to consider community nursing as a viable career option.Many nursing degree programs have made the decision that to maintain a Primary healthcare community focus within the curriculum that addressees not just the theoretical component but the practicalities of a community placement is a very expensive exercise and one that in the current neoliberal economic climate is difficult to justify. Our government has a commitment to Primary healthcare.  In Australia at our regional university we have decided to work actively at maintaining and developing our community placements and we were successful in accessing funding from a government initiative aimed at increasing clinical placements.  This project was also well aligned with our University graduate attributes.

Methods: We engaged our partners at a breakfast to canvas their ideas. This stimulating discussion resulted in a needs analysis of our clinical placement partners to find out if there was any support we could provide for them to encourage them in supporting students on placement and /or to increase their intake of student placements.  From the analysis a Preceptorship workshop program was developed and offered to nurses in the community. The workshop was very engaging and feedback was positive.  Then a multi media resource was developed that could be put on the electronic leaning management system for students to access before placement. This resource included interviews with a General Practitioner, a practice nurse, a community domiciliary nurse and previous students. All espousing the benefits of community nursing experience. After viewing the vodcasts the students complete a brief on line quiz and were issued with a certificate.


Feedback from both the students and the nurses has been really positive and students have an increased appreciation of community nursing, and we have increased our community placements. Partnerships with our community placements have been strengthened and students have access to a multi media resource that they can access prior to their placements at a time and place convenient to them to enhance their learning.

Conclusion: This project model based on consultation, participation and partnership with the community has enhanced community relationships with our primary healthcare partners and increased and enhanced student learning opportunities during the undergraduate nursing degree program. It aligned with the University Graduate Attributes and a the commitment to Blended Learning.  Long term it may have a positive impact on the Primary Healthcare workforce with more graduates considering Primary Healthcare providers as a career option.