Theory before practice: implicit assumptions about clinical nursing education in Australia as revealed through a shared critical reflection
The transfer of nursing education into the higher education sector occurred over a 10-year period in Australia (1985-1994). Australian nurse leaders settled on a single outcome measure to be applied for all nursing graduates in the form of national competency standards. While this move enabled diversity, the lack of consistency in curriculum design has subsequently led to increasing confusion for clinicians who support students' learning in clinical placements. Using a shared critical reflection method, the authors reviewed (1) the evaluation comments from nurses in one nursing unit of a hospital in one Australian jurisdiction and (2) an historical review of nursing literature at the time of the transfer of nursing education into the higher education sector. The reflection suggests that the aim of the transfer, to create critical thinking graduates, has been undermined by the implicit clinical education practices that have since emerged. In order to address the contemporary challenges for clinical staff working with students from multiple universities, as well as increased student numbers to address the nursing shortage, we recommend a new approach to curriculum design: a national clinical curriculum drawn from social, as well as cognitive, learning theory that at once informs clinicians of students' potential abilities and provides the scope to accommodate the increasingly difficult and critical learning requirements of tertiary-based nursing students.
Nursing not elsewhere classified