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Virginia Henderson International Nursing e-Repository > Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) > STTI Biennial Convention > The Theory Practice Gap in Nursing from the Perspective of Student Nurses

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Type: Presentation
Title: The Theory Practice Gap in Nursing from the Perspective of Student Nurses
The Theory Practice Gap in Nursing from the Perspective of Student Nurses
Conference Sponsor:Sigma Theta Tau International
Conference Year:2001
Conference Date:November 10 - 14, 2001
Author:Landers, Margaret
P.I. Institution Name:National University of Ireland
Much has been written about the theory-practice gap in nursing: that is the discrepancy between what is taught in the classroom and how care is actually given in practice. If theory is considered to be the basis for understanding the reality of nursing, it would seem reasonable to assume that the content studied in the classroom relates with what the student experiences on the ward. It should also follow that if a gap is identified between theory and practice, efforts should be made to reduce it. The aim of this qualitative study was to ascertain the views of first year student nurses’ (n=10) of the theory-practice gap in nursing. Students interviewed were approaching the end of their first year of a traditional system of nurse education in the Republic of Ireland. I felt it would be useful to ascertain their views on this long-standing problem in nursing, prior to embarking on a new system of education. The fieldwork took the form of a semi-structured interview. The research design was descriptive and the student’s views of the theory-practice gap as they described them were documented. For the purpose of this study the term “theory” was defined as the subject of nursing, taught in the classroom, which equips first year student nurses for clinical practice. The theory-practice gap was explored by firstly asking students to describe – giving an example how theory learned in the classroom prepared them for practice, and if they were helped to link this theory in the clinical area. The responses for the most part could be divided into the cognitive, psychomotor and affective domains. From a cognitive perspective, the know3ledge the students gained in the classroom enabled them to be more judicious in deciding the appropriate observations to make on a patient after a specific treatment. From a psychomotor perspective, students in general valued having acquired a level of competency in the performance of clinical skills, prior to their ward allocation. In regard to the affective domain, students felt the classes they received on interpersonal skills helped them to communicate more effectively with people who are ill. Overall students valued the support the staff nurse and mentor gave to them on the ward in enabling them in linking theory with practice. However, they would welcome a greater presence of the nurse teacher in the clinical area to affirm if they, the students are performing a nursing skill correctly now with “real patients”. Also students needed to know if in fact there performance was commensurate with that of other first year student nurses. In the view of these students a gap exists between what is taught in the classroom and what is practiced on the wards. Some participants described the nursing staff as doing things differently from the way they, the students, were taught in the classroom. The main reasons cited were time constraints and familiarity with the job and the fact that in the views of the participants “students are taught differently today”.
Repository Posting Date: 26-Oct-2011
Date of Publication: Nov-10
Sponsors: Sigma Theta Tau International
Appears in Collections: STTI Biennial Convention

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