N. Malouf, C. Campbell

Queensland University of Technology (AUSTRALIA)
Nurse education in Australia has undergone a substantial transformation in the course of its professional history. The use of experiential teaching and learning approaches in both pre and post registration courses has escalated dramatically and resulted in the extensive use of hospital based clinical experiences for student learning. The role of the clinical facilitator is used to provide stimulation to the affective and cognitive domains of student professional development and additionally is often used as a vehicle for student assessment.

While most tertiary nursing schools utilise hospital clinical experiences widely, few studies have examined whether clinical facilitators have the necessary tools to effectively support and assess students in the clinical environment. Although employed for their clinical expertise and understanding of specific clinical contexts, facilitators are expected to have an understanding of experiential learning, how it informs the undergraduate curriculum and be able to support the development of neophyte nurses as they learn to apply theoretical concepts to the increasingly complex realm of patient care. Additionally, clinical facilitators are often employed on a casual basis and as a consequence of the casualisation of the facilitator workforce, universities are continually recruiting new clinical facilitators to these positions.

This paper will explore a trial of facilitator education offered to clinical facilitators at the Queensland University of Technology, School of Nursing campus in Brisbane, Australia. It will report on the use of a series of student/facilitator “vignettes” created specifically for the purpose of facilitator education and how these interactions have been embedded within a wider educational package to support facilitators in their development as facilitators rather than teachers of nursing education. Finally, it will discuss the implications of facilitator preparedness on their ability to support and assess nursing students as they engage in the important transition from neophyte to registered nurse.