Donaldson, Jayne Helen
A qualitative study investigating the similarities and differences of diploma and undergraduate nursing (adult) students.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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The aims of this study were to explore the preconceptions of pre-registration undergraduate and Diploma of Higher Education in Nursing (Dip.H.E.) (Adult) students have in relation to their programme and the nursing profession, and students' perceptions as their programmes progress. In addition the study aimed to explore how pre-registration undergraduate and Dip.H.E. (Adult) students perceive their preparation for the qualified role, and compare pre-registration undergraduate and diploma nursing students' actual performance in the clinical area near to qualification.
The study used grounded theory methodology (Glaser and Strauss 1967). Undergraduate (n=20) and Dip.H.E. (n=22) nursing (Adult) students from two
institutions in Scotland were used.
Findings from the focus groups indicated that both groups were apprehensive about their first clinical placement, especially in relation to their own self-confidence and the uncertainty about their role within those placements. All students wanted to have the qualities of a 'good nurse' and expected to learn these qualities from clinical staff. Diploma level education was perceived as giving students better practical skills, while degree level education was perceived as giving students better theoretical skills.
At the mid-point of the programmes, diploma participants were more confident in their practical ability, while undergraduate participants were more confident in their theoretical ability. The clinical learning environment had a major effect, both positive and negative, on both sets of students' practical abilities. Students had experienced good and bad mentors, which had affected the integration of theory and practice, had 'shaped' their learning experience, and had resulted in different degrees of supervision and feedback. Overall, both groups of participants expressed their anxiety about their lack of practical skills, and their opportunities to link theory to practice.
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