PERCEPTIONS OF ACTUAL AND PREFERRED HOSPITAL CLINICAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENT OF STUDENT NURSES
Background to the Study
Nursing is a practice based profession with clinical education as an essential part of the nursing curriculum. Clinical practice is the focus for students learning and clinical placement/ posting constitutes one of the most integral components in the nursing education. Clinical placement is the venue where skills, knowledge and attitudes developed in the theoretical part of the curriculum are applied, developed and integrated into practice (Newton, Jolly, Ockerby & Cross, 2010).
According to Norman (2009), clinical practice setting provides students with unique learning opportunities in which classroom theory and skills are put to the test with real life situations. Besides the clinical training foster students in the application of knowledge, skill and attitude to clinical field of situations, it is vital that valuable clinical time should be utilized effectively and productively. Zilembo and Montereso (2008) stressed the implication of practicing in an appropriate clinical learning environment at the proper time in order that theory and practice can complement each other. Nursing students perceived the clinical setting as the most influential context for acquiring knowledge and nursing skills (Al-Kandari, Vidal & Thomas 2009).
The importance of learning in the clinical area has been a major emphasis in the United Kingdom and other parts of the world, Nigeria inclusive. Providing quality clinical training with an emphasis on improvement and development is paramount in ensuring that students experience good quality care and treatment of patients and clients (E.N.B & D.O.H 2001).