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Original Research

'We're it', 'We're a team', 'We're family' means a sense of belonging

Submitted: 25 May 2008
Revised: 12 July 2008
Published: 4 September 2008

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Author(s) : Sedgwick MG, Yonge O.

Monique SedgwickOlive Yonge

Citation: Sedgwick MG, Yonge O.  'We're it', 'We're a team', 'We're family' means a sense of belonging. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2008; 8: 1021. Available: http://www.rrh.org.au/articles/subviewnew.asp?ArticleID=1021 (Accessed 18 October 2017)

ABSTRACT

Introduction:  ‘Belonging’ is a universal characteristic of human beings and is a basic human need. Rural nurses describe the nature of their practice as being embedded in working as a team where belonging is central to the success of the team and the individual nurse. As a result they form close professional and personal ties. The challenge for nursing students is to develop a sense of belonging to the rural hospital team so that preceptorship is successful. Objective: To describe the cultural theme of a sense of belonging that nursing students develop during a rural hospital preceptorship.
Methods:  Using a focused ethnographic method, a purposive sample of fourth year nursing students and nurse preceptors was drawn from 11 rural communities across central and northern Alberta and Yukon, Canada. Individual interviews and a focus group interview, as well as student journals were analyzed. Ethnographic analysis was used to uncover the system of cultural meaning, ‘a sense of belonging’ which was the foundation for a successful rural hospital-based preceptorship for the fourth year nursing students.
Findings:  Nurse preceptors assist students to become members of the team and foster the development of feeling as if they belong by building bridges among the staff and students. For students, the work of being preceptored is developing a sense of belonging. Students feel they belong and are part of the team when they are known personally and professionally.
Conclusion:  Identifying and describing factors that influence students’ sense of belonging enhances the effectiveness of the preceptorship model, and increases the potential of recruiting and retaining competent health professionals in the rural hospital setting.

Key words:  rural hospital, preceptor, preceptorship, nursing students, belonging.

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