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

Diversity Characteristics and the Experiences of Nursing Students during Clinical Placements: A Qualitative Study of Student, Faculty and Supervisors' Views

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

Diversity Characteristics and the Experiences of Nursing Students during Clinical Placements: A Qualitative Study of Student, Faculty and Supervisors' Views

Article excerpt

Migration and social change have radically altered not only society but health care systems (Ollila, 2005; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2011) and the composition of the nursing profession (Ohr, Parker, Jeong, & Joyce, 2010). Perhaps none is more striking than in nursing; which was once the profession of unmarried young women (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2005) and is now diverse and heterogeneous in terms of gender and pathways into the profession (Aktan et ah, 2009). In countries such as Australia, there is also political intention to broaden societal participation in universities (Bradley, Noonan, Nugent, & Scales, 2008). Therefore, in pre-registration nursing programmes there is a range of age, gender, cultural and social groups which creates a diverse learning environment.

Diversity is not only a feature of the nursing profession but the environments in which nurses' work. Countries such as Australia (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012), Canada (Gushulak, Pottie, Hatcher Roberts, Torres, & DesMeules, 2011), the United Kingdom (Office for National Statistics, 2011) and the United States (US Census Bureau, 2012) are host countries to a range of ethnic and cultural groups. Enabling policy environments in these countries also accommodates a range of religious (Ahdar, 2012), cultural (Metcalfe, 2011) and sexual orientations (National Defense Research Institute, 2010). Despite these well-intentioned strategies to support multiculturalism, community harmony and social justice, there are many examples where there are lower levels of tolerance and discrimination and where racism is evident (Berman & Paradies, 2010). In nursing too, diversity not only establishes a pathway for the development and evolution of nursing, it also creates a potential milieu for disharmony (Habermann & Stagge, 2010).

Students who are perceived to be different or perceive they are different can have negative clinical placement experiences (San Miguel, Rogan, Kilstoff, & Brown, 2006). These students are more likely to encounter prejudice and discrimination from staff and patients during their acute care clinical placements (Amaro, AbriamYago, & Yoder, 2006; Levett-Jones & Lathlean, 2009). However, there is little research that has explored their experiences of diversity, either from the undergraduate nursing students' or the supervisors' perspectives and whether diversity characteristics impact on this crucial learning experience. A convergent parallel mixed methods design was chosen for the original study (Koch, 2013). The concurrent collection of quantitative and qualitative data used an anonymous webbased survey asking students about their most recent clinical placement so that their perceptions were current. This mixed method approach was taken to enable a broader and more complete understanding of how diversity influenced the experiences of nursing students undertaking clinical placement and to correlate the two sets of data (students and staff). For the purpose of the study, Loden and Rosener (1991) characteristics of diversity were expanded to include age, gender, ethnicity, language, religious belief, sexual orientation, educational background, income, marital status, parental status, work experience and disability. These elements provided a comprehensive selection of diversity characteristics of interest and relevance to the study. Adopting these diversity characteristics allowed for the overall research question to be answered: That is to determine 'What are the relationships between diversity characteristics and the clinical placement experiences of nursing students?' The volume and depth of the qualitative data retrieved demanded that these data be analysed and reported separately so as to give voice to the participants who clearly perceived this to be an important and unexplored area that impacted and shaped their undergraduate nursing learning experiences.

Literature review

There is an overall lack of empirical data relating to how the diversity characteristics chosen for the study (age, gender, ethnicity, language, religious belief, sexual orientation, educational background, income, marital status, parental status, work experience and disability) relate to the clinical experiences of nursing students. …

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