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A longitudinal study exploring student nurses’ perceptions of the impact of a simulated clinical environment on their clinical learning experience and transfer of learning

Crowley, Maureen A.


Maureen A. Crowley


Nurse education has evolved from an apprenticeship model to one with a graduate focus. However, numerous factors have resulted in less opportunity for students to practice clinical skills in practicum (Scholes et al., 2004). Simulation was introduced to address this (NMC 2007) and research has shown that simulation is effective in the acquisition of skills over the short term (Alinier et al., 2006; Ironside et al., 2009). However, no research had looked at the student experience of simulation over an extended period of time.
The aim of this longitudinal qualitative study was to explore the progressive nature of the student nurses’ experiences of learning within a simulated clinical environment (SCE) and the impact it had on their learning and transfer of skills to practicum.
A purposive sample of twelve students was recruited from two different intakes. Cohort one comprised four students. Cohort two comprised eight. Students consented to being interviewed five times, from entry into the branch programme to registration. Each cohort participated in an initial focus group, one observation in practicum and four semi-structured one–to–one interviews over the course of the two–year branch programme.
Data were thematically analysed (Colaizzi 1978), with existing literature used to support or counter emerging themes. A recurring focus was how well students were able to participate in the SCE. What was apparent was that those able to fully engage with the simulation events appeared to get the most out of it. Findings revealed many factors, which facilitated or inhibited student engagement. The categories that emerged were: learning in the simulated clinical environment; authenticity of the simulated clinical environment; concrete experiences in the simulated clinical environment; visual mental model; and practicum experiences. An important recurring factor that was unforeseen was the impact students’ preferred learning style could have on their skill development and subsequent transfer to practicum. Findings were returned to participants for verification of accuracy.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Sep 20, 2013
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords Nurse education; student experience; clinical skills; simulation;
Public URL
Contract Date Sep 20, 2013
Award Date 2013-09


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