Traditionally undergraduate nursing students receive education regarding the theoretical and practical aspects of nursing before attending clinical placement. However, COVID-19 caused interruptions to clinical preparation for nursing students with physical restrictions necessitating that only essential clinical skill sessions were facilitated face to face.
All other learning related to clinical care was directed to be facilitated online using synchronous and asynchronous approaches. Additionally, many students had interrupted clinical placements during 2020. Consequently, second-year nursing students entered third-year with a less than ideal preparation resulting in a potential deficit in clinical confidence, clinical reasoning, fundamental health assessments and technical and non-technical skills.
The clinical settings that undergraduate nursing students enter are characterised by high acuity patients with short stays, high workloads and complex systems and processes.1 To support students to develop the clinical competence required, intensive clinical skills training programs are suggested to be effective in senior students.2 Additionally, these programs can provide evidence to clinical partners of student’s ability to provide safe care.3 However, there are dissenting views on the value of intensive clinical skills training programs. Some authors indicate no statistical difference with untrained peers,4 and others proposing that intensive clinical skills training is required to ensure satisfactory learning experiences.5 Therefore, to address the deficits in student preparation for practice and investigate the influence of intensive clinical skills training on the ability of senior nursing students to provide acute care, an intensive clinical skills Bootcamp was implemented before the commencement of year three subjects.
The Bootcamp program was determined by input from academic staff and clinical partners to support theory and technical and non-technical skills revision and development. The teaching and learning activities were designed to be interactive, experiential, and informative. Small groups of up to eight students rotated through a series of clinical skills stations and simulation experiences, with each group supported by an academic facilitator. An ethically approved mixed methods study is underway to explore the impact of this intensive clinical skills Bootcamp on the self-reported perception of nursing students of their ability to provide care in acute situations.
Preliminary data suggest that the intensive clinical skills Bootcamp enabled students to review, consolidate and reinforce technical skills. “It reinforced our learning and helped consolidate all the theory parts which we got last year” with the practical (FG1P1). Other students reported that the opportunity to be ‘put on the spot’ in immersive simulation and ‘to think about that one patient’ was effective. “I feel more confident than when I came in here this morning” (FG1P2). Feedback from industry partners indicated the Bootcamp had a discernible impact on the student preparation for practice for those students who attended.
Investigations of educational innovations that promote competence in clinical practice and maintains patient safety in clinical practice will provide tangible benefits. These benefits not only impact study participants but also to curriculum designers, program accreditation bodies and potentially the wider society from improved healthcare outcomes.
Sterner A, Säfström E, Palmér L, Ramstrand N, Hagiwara MA. Development and initial validation of an instrument to measure novice nurses’ perceived ability to provide care in acute situations–PCAS. BMC nursing. 2020 Dec;19(1):1-9.
Park S. Effects of an intensive clinical skills course on senior nursing students’ self-confidence and clinical competence: A quasi-experimental post-test study. Nurse Education Today. 2018 Feb 1;61:182-6.
Hinton A, Chirgwin S. Nursing education: reducing reality shock for graduate Indigenous nurses-It’s all about time. Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, The. 2010 Sep;28(1):60-6.
Chan ZC, Cheng WY, Fong MK, Fung YS, Ki YM, Li YL, Wong HT, Wong TL, Tsoi WF. Curriculum design and attrition among undergraduate nursing students: A systematic review. Nurse Education Today. 2019 Mar 1;74:41-53.
Barnard A, Owen C, Tyson A, Martin S. Maximising student preparation for clinical teaching placements. The Clinical Teacher. 2011 Jun;8(2):88-92.
Dr Monica Peddle PhD, M.Ed, Grad Dip Nurse Ed, RN is Senior Lecturer in Nursing in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at La Trobe University, Bundoora Victoria
Jen Austerberry RN, Honours, M.Ed, Grad Dip Crit Care, Grad Cert Higher Education is Lecturer in Nursing in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at La Trobe University, Bundoora Victoria