New ways of seeing: Nursing students' experiences of a pilot service learning program in Australia

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Journal Article
Nurse Education in Practice, 2016, 16 (1), pp. 60 - 65
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© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. The objective of this paper was to evaluate pre-registration nursing students' experiences of a pilot program that placed them in community based non-government organisations for clinical placement as part of a core mental health subject.Clinical placements that adopt a Service Learning model in primary health care environments are valuable to nursing students but are not commonly available in Australia. In order to enhance student exposure to primary health care models and support experiential learning about the social determinants of health, a pilot Service Learning program was designed to provide clinical placements in non-government organisations.Qualitative data were collected through one focus group with program participants. The focus group was audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis of transcribed data was undertaken.The overarching theme identified was 'new ways of seeing'. Three sub-themes - 'learning outside the box', 'confronting the real world' and 'transformative experiences' - were also identified.The authors have concluded that nursing students in community organisations for clinical practicum facilitated valuable learning and generated professional and personal insight leading to increased understanding of the social determinants of health and increased awareness of mental health nursing in the community.
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