Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Audio Teleconferencing: Creative Use of a Forgotten Innovation

Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Audio Teleconferencing: Creative Use of a Forgotten Innovation

Article excerpt

As part of a regional School of Nursing and Midwifery's commitment to addressing recruitment and retention issues, approximately 90% of second year undergraduate student nurses undertake clinical placements at multipurpose centres; regional or district hospitals; aged care; or community centres based in rural and remote regions within the State. The remaining 10% undertake professional experience placement in urban areas only. This placement of a large cohort of students, in low numbers in a variety of clinical settings, initiated the need to provide consistent support to both students and staffat these facilities. Subsequently the development of an audio teleconferencing model of clinical facilitation to guide student teaching and learning and to provide support to registered nurse preceptors in clinical practice was developed. This paper draws on Weimer's 'Personal Accounts of Change' approach to describe, discuss and evaluate the modifications that have occurred since the inception of this audio teleconferencing model (Weimer, 2006).

BACKGROUND

Rationale for change

Each year, the School of Nursing and Midwifery delivers two clinical practice units to approximately two hundred second year undergraduate nursing students. Each unit comprises of 10 hours of lectures, 20 hours of laboratory workshops and 120 hours of experiential clinical practice in an acute hospital or community facility within urban or rural area within regional Australia. There are approximately 40 rural or remote agencies where students are allocated. These include multi purpose health centers, district hospitals, aged care facilities and community health centers. Given the geographical distribution of these facilities, the provision of support to both students and their registered nurse preceptors by academic staffwas seen as inconsistent and inequitable. Support was provided through ad hoc face to face visits and sporadic telephone calls. It therefore became essential to devise a more cost effective strategy that would meet the needs of students, preceptors and academic staffmembers. The existing model was seen as expensive, inefficient and potentially exposed academics to risks associated with transport to and from teaching sites.

It is well documented that students of nursing require clinical guidance and support while undertaking clinical placement (Edith Cowen University, 2006; Edwards, Smith, Courtney, Finlayson, & Chapman, 2004; Henderson, Winch, & Heel, 2006; Lambert & Glacken, 2005; Zilembo & Monterosso, 2008). However, due to the unpredictable nature of health care environments and related staffing issues, the opportunity for students to be provided with quality or willing preceptors is sometimes reduced (Elliott, 2002), and as a result valuable learning experiences occur in a haphazard manner (Lambert & Glacken, 2005). Moreover, there is an apparent lack of consistency of support for nursing students while undertaking clinical practice in Australia (Edith Cowen University, 2006), a situation that is mirrored internationally (Lambert & Glacken, 2005). Some universities employ clinical facilitators or use a preceptor model while others utilise their nurse academics to support and guide students in the practice arena (Edith Cowen University, 2006). Academic staffat the School of Nursing and Midwifery were concerned with the provision of consistent information and guidance to both students and their registered nurse preceptors, especially in rural and remote areas, where access to academic staffmembers and university facilities was scant. Consistence with models of support, guidance and clinical facilitation for students was problematic because of the complex issues related to the need for preceptoring a cohort of over 200 student nurses, gaining clinical experience in a variety of settings. Some facilities accepted one student and others accommodated more than 8 students in various units within one facility. …

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