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Nurs N Z. 1999 Mar;5(2):14-6.

Bridging the theory-practice gap.


In New Zealand, there is a festering debate over a "theory-practice gap" in nursing. Joint appointments may be a potential solution to this issue. Joint appointments refer to a variety of arrangements whereby concurrent employment occurs within an educational institution and a clinical setting. Advantages for the appointees include job satisfaction and professional growth. Clinical credibility for nurse educators enables improved facilitation of student learning. In clinical areas, benefits in patient care are associated with the marrying of academic rigour with clinical practice. Some appointees assist with staff development, act as consultants on nursing issues and undertake research. Disadvantages in the concept focus on role conflict, i.e. incongruity between the roles and role ambiguity, i.e. lack of clarity concerning expectations. Success depends upon the personal attributes of appointees; realistic expectations; flexibility to allow the concept to evolve; and support from colleagues and management. This research describes a case study of a joint appointment between a nurse lecturer and a staff nurse in an acute forensic psychiatry unit. Advantages, disadvantages and reasons for success are discussed in relation to the literature findings. (See p15-15) The discussion focuses on the need to develop research methodology to further clarify potential benefits and advantages.

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