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J Adv Nurs. 1994 Oct;20(4):687-95.

Integrating what is taught with what is practised in the nursing curriculum: a multi-dimensional model.

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School of Nursing Studies, Manchester University, England.


The discrepancy between nursing as it is taught in the classroom (theory) and nursing as it is experienced by students in the clinical setting (practice) has long been a source of concern to teachers, practitioners and learners. This paper provides an overview of the literature on the theory-practice gap, exploring some of the many reasons cited for its existence as well as suggested ways of bridging the gap. Drawing upon the findings, a comprehensive and multi-dimensional model designed to integrate theory and practice of nursing is proposed for use by curriculum planners. Fundamental to the model is the notion of collaboration between education and service staff at all stages of the curriculum process. The model highlights eight key areas for the curriculum team to consider: the curriculum model to be used, sequencing of taught content and clinical practice, the content of the course, teaching methods to be used, assessment criteria, the role of tutors in the learning process, the contribution of service staff, and the influence of the hidden curriculum. It is argued that only through such a comprehensive model can integration of theory and practice within the curriculum be achieved. Adoption of the model, however, will require considerable individual and organizational commitment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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