Nursing studies

Switch from nurse to teacher opened my eyes to challenges faced by students

Assistant lecturer Stephanie Bryan says educating students in a clinical setting is enhancing their learning and improving her own skills as a nurse educator

Assistant lecturer Stephanie Bryan says educating students in a clinical setting is enhancing their learning and improving her own skills as a nurse educator

Picture: iStock

In May last year I left clinical practice and took a job as an assistant lecturer at Birmingham City University.

After five years in a clinical setting – as a paediatric intensive care nurse and diabetes specialist nurse – it was a significant change for me.

My new role involves working two and a half days a week in clinical practice, teaching students on placements to enhance their academic and clinical skill profile. The voluntary sessions – which take place in practice education rooms, meeting rooms or skills labs – are based on an agenda designed by the students, helping them to direct their own education.

Sessions are tailored to where the students are within the academic programme and centre on areas they may struggle with, such as patient assessment and observation, medication management and communication.

Problems and challenges

Using problem-based learning and simulation, we also look at issues such as communication, leadership and management strategies. This helps students develop skills in analysis, critical thinking and decision-making, and increases student engagement.

Clinical reflection sessions help students to develop the skills required to reflect on clinical events – both challenging and positive – and draw on the lessons learned to find resolutions to problems and challenges and develop their future practice. I also share my own clinical experiences with them.

Social media sites Twitter and Facebook are used to communicate with students, and are a valuable way of getting feedback on the sessions. When one student used Twitter to highlight the benefits of a session I facilitated on end of life care, it drew the attention of other students who asked for further sessions on the topic. It was a real confidence boost to see positive feedback so soon after the session.

Safe environment

Students can sometimes feel nervous in clinical practice, so they appreciate seeing a familiar face. Everything seems more ‘real’ when teaching is carried out in the clinical area, and they appreciate the opportunity to learn practical skills in a safe environment.

They also welcome the opportunity to share experiences and explore feelings and attitudes with their peer group, and first and second year students are pleased to see the progress made by those in their third year.

Teaching in practice has changed my perspective of the student experience. I am now more aware of how students feel coming into clinical practice, and the challenges they face.

As a practitioner and educator, it can be easy to forget what it is like to be a nursing student in the clinical environment. Educating in practice has allowed me to re-engage with some of these feelings and emotions, and I have been able to explore different learning methods and teaching styles.

Feedback from students

  • ‘Sessions are really helpful for preparing us for good future practice.’
  • ‘It’s really useful to develop theory while on clinical placement.’
  • ‘The theory into practice session are very informative, enjoyable and engaging.’
  • ‘The sessions are really useful. They act as a foundation to build on while on placement.’

Stephanie Bryan is an assistant lecturer at Birmingham City University 


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