Investigating the perceptions of undergraduate nursing students of their clinical learning experience and readiness for clinical practice in the UAE context.
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A supportive clinical practice environment is crucial to improve nursing students’ engagement in clinical practice and enhance both their clinical skills and satisfaction with their learning experiences. The purpose of this study is to investigate undergraduate nursing student’s perceptions of their clinical learning experience, effective teaching methods, and their readiness for clinical practice. A sequential explanatory mixed method case study design was used in this study. In the quantitative study, a convenience sample of 217 year three and year four nursing students volunteered to participate in this study. In the qualitative study, the researcher employed the purposeful sampling technique to select a total of thirteen year three and year four nursing students in the UAE. Data collection was achieved by a questionnaire with a five-point Likert scale, semi-structured interviews, and document analysis of nursing study plans and student clinical evaluation reports. The study concluded that peer support, availability of learning opportunities, and competence, supervision, and guidance of clinical instructors facilitated the clinical practice of students. However, the gap between theory and practice, high clinical instructor-to-student ratio, high study load, an inadequate collaboration between clinical instructors and preceptors, and unfavorable clinical rotation were barriers to clinical practice. Moreover, the study revealed that many students were not fully ready for clinical practice. As most of the factors that could affect the clinical practice of students have been identified, it is recommended that administrators introduce changes to the management of clinical and laboratory courses in terms of clinical rotations, sequencing pattern of courses, number of students and resources in laboratories, and co-requisite requirements for clinical courses. Besides, clinical instructors are required to be supportive of students, acknowledge their achievements, engage them regularly in reflective practices, ask critical thinking questions, use formative assessment to identify learning needs rather than to grade student performance, and collaborate with preceptors and nurse managers.
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