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Nurse Educ Today. 2003 May;23(4):262-8.

Clinical environment as a learning environment: student nurses' perceptions concerning clinical learning experiences.

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School of Health and Social Care, Jyväskylä Polytechnic, Keskussairaalantie 21 E, P.O. Box 207, FIN-40101 Jyväskylä, Finland.


The aim of this study is to describe student nurses' perceptions of clinical learning experiences in the context of the clinical learning environment. We use the phenomenological approach by Colaizzi. The data was collected by unstructured interviews. Altogether 16 student nurses were asked to describe the significance of clinical learning experiences and good and bad learning experiences. Four elements sum up these clinical learning experiences: the appreciation and support the students received, the quality of mentoring and patient care, and students' self-directedness. Student nurses valued clinical practice and the possibilities it offered in the process of growing to become a nurse and a professional. A good clinical learning environment was established through good co-operation between the school and the clinical staff. It was concluded that the school should be able to provide a suitable clinical learning environment at the right time, so that theory and practice would complement each other. The teacher was the expert on nursing education, the aims set for each practice, as well as student nurses and their skills, but then again the nurse mentor knew the ward on which students were practicing. This was why collaboration between nurse mentors and nurse teachers was considered very necessary.

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