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Nurs Prax N Z. 1998 Nov;13(3):45-55.

An exploration of the empowerment of nursing students in a clinical context.

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  • 1School of Nursing and Health Studies, Whitireia Community Polytechnic.


At Whitireia Community Polytechnic the curriculum philosophy for the Bachelor of Nursing Degree Programme is based on the Treaty of Waitangi which provides a framework to articulate the concepts of Partnership, Governorship, Advocacy and Empowerment. This paper will describe a research study that aimed to explore the phenomenon of empowerment from the perspective of the student nurse. Using grounded theory methodology, and emancipatory and feminist philosophies, six, Year Two nursing student participants were interviewed and asked to define the term empowerment and give exemplars of moments when they had been empowered in a teaching/learning context. Analysis of data led to the discovery of a theory and development of a theoretical model that described the conditions and consequences that led to empowerment or disempowerment for the student. The theoretical model will be presented and explained, and the conditions that enhanced empowerment will be explored. Recommendations from the research included the need for relevant preparation for students prior to clinical placement, preparation of clinicians through preceptor programmes, greater awareness by registered nurses of the communication that is effective in supporting student nurses and support for assisted reflection for students following clinical placements. It was further recommended that the theoretical model be tested in other contexts.

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