Clinical practice placements are an essential component of pre-registration nursing programmes. Integration into a new team in an unfamiliar setting, which has its own values, practices, culture and language, can be stressful for nursing students. This article presents and discusses students’ reflections on preparing for, entering and leaving practice placements. Ten students who participated in fortnightly group reflective sessions, discussed and analysed their learning experiences while on practice placements in an acute hospital. The challenges the students encountered were deconstructed using a group narrative approach. The students experienced ethical dilemmas around patient dignity, consent and advocacy as well as factors external to the practice setting, such as navigating systems and processes to access information before starting practice placements, managing household duties and academic workloads while working long shifts, and managing fatigue and loneliness. The students devised recommendations for other students to enable them to navigate their practice placements effectively and enhance their learning experience. Raising awareness among academic and practice placement staff of the challenges students encounter before and during their practice placement is essential to assist students to succeed and maximise their learning potential.
Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2016.e10230Correspondence
This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software
Received: 07 July 2015
Accepted: 08 October 2015
Published online: 21 October 2016
Alternatively, you can purchase access to this article for the next seven days. Buy now