Supporting Australian clinical learners in a collaborative clusters education model: A mixed methods study

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van de Mortel, Thea F
Armit, Lyn
Shanahan, Brenton
Needham, Judith
Brown, Candy
Grafton, Eileen
Havell, Michelle
Henderson, Amanda
Grealish, Laurie
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Background: Nursing student numbers have risen in response to projected registered nurse shortfalls, increasing numbers of new graduates requiring transitional support and pressure on clinical placements. A Collaborative Clusters Education Model, in which Entry to Practice facilitators coach ward-based registered nurses to support students' and new graduates' learning, may address placement capacity. The research aim was to evaluate the acceptability of the Collaborative Clusters Education Model to stakeholders by examining their perceptions of the facilitators and barriers to the model in its implementation. Methods: A convergent mixed methods evaluation approach was adopted. The study took place in a large Australian health service in south-east Queensland. Participants included Bachelor of Nursing students, Entry to Practice facilitators, ward-based registered nurses, academics and new graduates. A mixed methods design was used. Elements included an online survey of nursing students, and interviews with new graduates, Entry to Practice facilitators, ward-based registered nurses, and academics. Descriptive statistics were calculated on quantitative data. Thematic analysis was conducted on qualitative data. Results: Participants included 134 (of 990) nursing students (response rate 13.5%), five new graduates, seven Entry to Practice facilitators, four registered nurses, and three nurse academics. Students rated facilitators' effectiveness highly (4.43/5 ± 0.75), although this finding is tempered by a low response rate (13.5%). For learners, the model provided access to learning experiences, although preferences for sources of support differed between students and new graduates, and further clarification of responsibilities was required. For other stakeholders, three themes emerged: students' and new graduates' integration into the workplace can promote learning; tensions arise in new ways to approach performance assessment; and aligning expectations requires high levels of communication. Conclusions: This evaluation found that acceptability was good but at risk from limited clarity around roles and responsibilities. Further research into this model is recommended.

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BMC Nursing
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© The Author(s). 2020, This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made.
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Clinical supervision
Education, clinical
Registered nurses
Students, nursing
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Van De Mortel, TF; Armit, L; Shanahan, B; Needham, J; Brown, C; Grafton, E; Havell, M; Henderson, A; Henderson, A; Grealish, L, Supporting Australian clinical learners in a collaborative clusters education model: A mixed methods study, BMC Nursing, 2020, 19 (1), pp. 57-