Nursing curricula involves both classroom and clinical instruction. The clinical component of nursing education puts the student directly at the bedside, caring for actual patients in a real time setting. It affords the nursing student opportunities to apply theory to practice while they develop skills in problem solving, decision making and critical thinking.
Importance of Clinical Practice
When placed at the bedside, the nursing student learns to take on the role of the professional nurse. Simply put, nursing students "learn how to learn" at the bedside. It is in this setting that the student develops technical skills, and begins to incorporate the attitudes, values and beliefs of professional nursing practice, according to the article "Active Learning in Nursing Education" from the Texas Medical Center. Clear feedback from instructors greatly facilitates this process.
Role of Modeling, Mentoring and Feedback
Nursing instructors serve as both role models and mentors to the student nurse. Supportive and constructive feedback regarding the student's clinical performance is critical to his success in taking on the role. As the student's primary mentor and role model, the clinical nursing instructor is able to evaluate how well the student has incorporated what he has been taught in the classroom, and give immediate feedback regarding his performance.
Effective Teaching Behaviors
Numerous studies in nursing education show that student nurses want instructors they can approach, and instruction that is clear and concise, according to the Clinical Education Facilitators. Students value useful and constructive feedback, along with specific suggestions for improvement. Effective teaching requires that the instructor correct students tactfully, and demonstrate objectivity and fairness in their evaluations. Strong interpersonal communication skills and the ability to establish a positive rapport with students are needed in order for the student to learn. Most importantly, these behaviours help the student to close the gap that often exists between theory and practice, says the Nursing Resource Guide.