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Keywords:

  • environment;
  • threat;
  • community;
  • students

Abstract This study assessed nursing students' perceptions of threat in the community from the beginning to the completion of their first formal community health nursing course (inclusive of specific community health content associated with relevant clinical experience) and determined how perceptions of threat differed by residential zone and by type of program (generic day, generic weekend/evening, or R.N.). Undergraduate nursing students were sampled from eight National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) accredited baccalaureate schools. Completed pretest data were obtained for 345 students. Completed post-test data were obtained for 274 students. Paired data were available for 197 students. Generally, students were comfortable when the environment was assessed within the context of daylight before and after the course. Students were not as comfortable with the environment when assessed within the context of nighttime either before they started the community course or after they completed it. Students continue to perceive that the community environment presents limited threats, particularly when viewed from the perspective of time of day. Because the community educational experience is not restricted to baccalaureate education (Cahill et al., 1998), nor is it conceptualized as a singular experience (Mellon & Nelson, 1998), the challenge to faculty is to enhance student learning by preparing them in such a manner that they assess their community environment for threats and practice safely within that environment. The use of the Environmental Comfort Scale III, including the open-ended question, may be one way to achieve this challenge.