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Review Article

Experiential learning driving community based nursing curriculum

Submitted: 29 November 2007
Revised: 9 May 2008
Published: 29 August 2008

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Author(s) : Smith LM, Emmett H, Woods M.

Lindsay SmithHeather EmmettMichelle Woods

Citation: Smith LM, Emmett H, Woods M.  Experiential learning driving community based nursing curriculum. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2008; 8: 901. Available: http://www.rrh.org.au/articles/subviewnew.asp?ArticleID=901 (Accessed 19 October 2017)

ABSTRACT

Context:   The School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Tasmania, Australia, is the only bachelor of nursing provider in the State of Tasmania. This arrangement is unique among Australian states, which all have multiple providers. In Tasmania’s situation, community based nursing students are dispersed for their clinical practica across metropolitan, urban, rural and remote clinical nursing practice. The range of practice is also diverse, and students may be exposed to the span of community health experience, from adolescent, child and family health to specialist clinics in wound care, asthma or diabetes.
Issues:  Providing a curriculum that meets the requirements of the course registering authority as well as the individual clinical learning requirements is challenging. Authentic learning in a diverse context and dispersed venues is difficult to ensure. However the intent to improve the health status of the population served through community practice nursing interventions, guided by primary health care principles, is common to all clinical placements. A curriculum designed to standardise community health practice experience and theory may not address students’ learning needs in any of the practice areas. These challenges have been addressed in an experiential learning approach that focuses on the needs of the learner.
Lessons learned:  The fundamental principles that hold the diverse curriculum together are: (1) the experiential focus; and (2) the partnership developed between the university and the facility that supports both students and facilitator/preceptors. Providing rural and remote student practicum experiences enhances the learning outcomes of the student and the health outcomes of the community. It encourages the consideration of rural and remote community based nursing practice as a viable professional option for graduates.

Key words:  active learning, community nursing practice, experiential learning, journaling, preceptorship, reflection.

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