Title. Nursing students’ perceptions of learning in the clinical setting of the Dedicated Education Unit
Aim. This paper reports a study to explore nursing students’ experience of learning in the clinical setting of a Dedicated Education Unit using a communities of practice framework.
Background. The Bachelor of Nursing curriculum at the University of Canberra is clinically focused, recognizing the importance of learning to be a nurse in and from practice. A communities of practice framework underpins the philosophy of the Dedicated Education Unit model of clinical practicum.
Method. In this exploratory qualitative study, a convenience sample of 25 second and third year nursing students participated in focus group discussions, conducted in 2004, to share their views of learning in the Dedicated Education Unit, a newly established model of clinical education.
Findings. Three major themes were identified: acceptance, learning and reciprocity, and accountability. Acceptance of students by clinicians assisted students to engage in nursing work. Students acknowledged the importance of peer learning in sharing experiences, reinforcing knowledge and enhancing confidence. Students accepted responsibility for their work and they valued this responsibility, but some questioned whether participation in all aspects of work constituted a learning opportunity.
Conclusion. Engagement and participation in the clinical workplace are valuable for nursing students. Strategies to support learning in the workplace can be shared with students and clinicians. Further research to test the theoretical premises of the communities of practice framework in clinical nursing education is required.