I'm asking this to truely try to understand, not critisize,bash, or in any way demean students. I am a diploma graduate of 31 years. I don't understand why nursing education doesn't include more clinical experience. I can't imagine starting out the way new grads do today. I understand and appreciate the necessity of theory, but would it not be of significant value for that theory to be put into practice while in school on a much larger scale. Our students graduate having never cared for more than two patients. Is this the norm? Also, our nurses don't teach, the instructer must always be there for them to do anything new. Recently, a student had a patient on my assignment that went bad, the student and instructer walked away from the situation and it was mine alone to handle-I saw that as a terrific learning experience-what was that about?
Aug 11, '03
I don't think ANY nursing program of today can match the old diploma programs of yesteryear in the way of clinical experience/time spent in the hospitals and other areas of RN practice.
In those days, nursing students literally slept, breathed, ate, LIVED nursing. Many lived ON HOSPITAL GROUNDS, in dormitories and spent countless hours on the floors. The experiences today contain much more classroom time and less clinical time. This is due to many factors. Nurses today have much more autonomy than those of the past. We are expected to make many decisions previously deferred to doctors before. The legal climate certainly has changed, requiring nursing to be darn near all things to everyone with the threat of legal action hanging over each and every intervention we make on the job.
I am in NO way putting down diploma programs in the past; could not be further from the truth. I think some of the most competent nurses I EVER met are grads of these almost-extinct programs. ( my aunt and grandmother among them). They hit the floor on graduation KNOWING the hospital inside and out. I just think changing, ever-expanding roles and attitudes have forced a change in nursing education, quite naturally. And I have talked to few nurses who, in being honest, felt they had NEARLY enough clinical hours upon graduation----myself included.
I think nursing programs would do well to add clinical hours and less classroom time. A lot of what is covered in class can be covered in self-paced study and the like. JMO......and I am not suggesting spending more time putting in foleys and suctioning people, either. These tasks are such a small part of what RNs do day in and out. I am thinking spending time REALLY practicing team leading and working hand-in-hand with charge nurses, learning their roles. Also more time spent outside the hospital, in community health nursing, hospice nursing, home health nursing, school nursing, parish nursing. WE had so so much we could have covered! I wish I had. The first year was SO hard, not only learning my speciality, but being expected to learn to take charge of my OB floor within 3 lousy months.
Oh well, I could go on and on. I do believe the OP has a great point. Nursing programs today (BSN/ADN) do NOT spend enough clinical hours doing what they will do. Cost and time constraints make it hard. No easy answers.
Last edit by SmilingBluEyes on Aug 11, '03