Purpose and scope
The purpose of this best practice guideline (BPG) is to provide evidence-based recommendations that promote and sustain the undergraduate nursing student’s application of knowledge to practice in a variety of clinical learning environments. The guideline explores the relationships among and between students and nursing educators, nursing staff, preceptors and diverse health-care team members, and it considers their influence on the quality of practice education, professional socialization and nursing excellence. The recommendations will help nurse educators, preceptors, staff nurses and other members of the interprofessional health-care team better understand how to foster and support effective teaching and learning strategies in a variety of practice settings, as well as how they can advocate for change.
This guideline was developed to identify and describe best practices in practice education for the undergraduate nursing student in order to ensure that nurses entering practice meet competencies related to safe, ethical and effective practice. This guideline will also be applicable for practice education planning and implementation in college programs for registered practical nurses.
Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO). (2016). Practice Education in Nursing. Toronto, ON: Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario.
Do you want to learn about and implement the most- up-to-date evidence-based recommendations on this topic with your colleagues? Download and share the full best practice guideline (BPG), Practice Education in Nursing.
See below for a snapshot of the recommendations from this BPG. We strongly suggest you review the full BPG before implementing the recommendations and good practice statements. The BPG also includes further resources to support implementation and evaluation.
Recommendation 1.1: Provide opportunities for students to share and purposefully reflect on practice education experiences with faculty, preceptors, and student colleagues using initiatives such as journaling, peer sharing, and technology.
Recommendation 1.2: Incorporate student placements that promote the transferability of skills and knowledge across the spectrum of care, including, but not limited to, the use of acute settings, community settings, and service-learning.
Recommendation 2.1: Provide nursing preceptors with a structured, participatory professional development and education program, implemented in collaboration with the service agency, that includes
- information about teaching strategies and theory;
- information about addressing students’ clinical goals, objectives, scope of practice, and unsafe practice;
- specific guidance on implementing a standardized approach to role modelling as a clinical teaching strategy; and
- the importance of an orientation meeting with the student for establishing trusting, continuous relationships and mutual expectations for the experience.
Recommendation 2.2: Facilitate collaboration—in partnership with service agencies—among preceptors, students, and nursing faculty members through frequent and clearly established communication strategies that are tailored to the practice education context.
Recommendation 3.1: Prepare nurse educators engaged in practice education with the knowledge and skills that contribute to a positive, high quality learning environment, including
- pedagogy to facilitate practice education learning; and
- assessment strategies and evaluation of learning outcomes.
Recommendation 3.2: Ensure that clinical nursing instructors possess current theoretical knowledge and clinical expertise and support ongoing professional development opportunities to promote the transfer of theory to practice.
Recommendation 4.1: Incorporate high-quality simulated learning experiences in the curriculum to compliment practice education, taking into account the following:
- simulation is not a replacement for practice education;
- simulation experiences require faculty proficient in simulation teaching;
- opportunities for structured debriefing following simulation learning strengthen the experience; and
- quality simulation experiences require adequate time, preplanning, and attention to group size.
Recommendation 4.2: Integrate innovative strategies into the curriculum that promote critical thinking in nursing students to prepare them for the transition to practice, including class discussions of key clinical issues or case studies, reflective writing, and the use of virtual health-care settings.
Recommendation 5.1: Engage in ongoing collaboration with educational institutions to develop strategies that promote a supportive learning environment for nursing students and encourage communication between service agency staff nurses and nursing faculty members.
Recommendation 5.2: Create mutually beneficial partnerships with academic nursing programs that foster quality practice education and support strategies to address gaps in services, including offering clinical instructor roles to nursing staff and increasing recruitment of new graduates.
Recommendation 5.3: Provide interprofessional learning experiences for nursing students that foster collaboration and mutual goal setting with other health disciplines in the process of care or program delivery
Recommendation 6.1: Advocate for policies that enable sufficient funding for and access to qualified faculty, adequate clinical placements, and collaborative relationships with service partners to support quality practice education for nursing students.
Recommendation 6.2: Prioritize programs of research that are designed and funded to advance understanding of the strategies that improve quality practice education in nursing and impact the science of nursing education.
Disclaimer: These guidelines are not binding for nurses, other health providers or the organizations that employ them. The use of these guidelines should be flexible and based on individual needs and local circumstances. They constitute neither a liability nor discharge from liability. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the contents at the time of publication, neither the authors nor the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) gives any guarantee as to the accuracy of the information contained in them or accepts any liability with respect to loss, damage, injury or expense arising from any such errors or omission in the contents of this work.