Recognition for registered nurses supporting students on clinical placement: a grounded theory study

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Carina Anderson
Lorna Moxham
Marc Broadbent


nursing student, workload, preceptorship, qualitative, clinical education


Objective: This study examined registered nurses’ perspectives of being supportive of nursing students and providing them with learning opportunities when on clinical placements. Background: In Australia, as part of their three-year Bachelors degree, undergraduate nursing students undertake a minimum of 800 hours of  clinical placement. During these clinical placement hours, nursing students are supervised by registered nurses who are required to be supportive of the students and provide them with learning opportunities. Study design and methods: This study used a grounded theory approach. In this qualitative study there were fifteen registered nurse participants. Thirteen participants were female participants and two were male. Participants were individually interviewed. Transcripts from these in–depth interviews were analysed using constant comparative analysis. Results: The major category, an added extra, emerged from this study. An added extra is about registered nurses’ perception that having a student is an added extra to their daily duties. The major category an added extra is informed by three emergent themes. The first theme was time, the second theme was workload and the third theme was wanting recognition. Discussion: Registered nurses perceived that their workloads tend not to be taken into consideration when they have nursing students. The literature suggests that nursing students often miss out on learning opportunities when they are on clinical placement because registered nurses do not have additional time to effectively support students’ clinical learning. Conclusion: Participants in this study believed being supportive of nursing students and providing them with learning opportunities was an added extra to their daily nursing duties. Findings revealed registered nurses want to be recognised for the extra time and effort they dedicate to students’ learning.

Implications for research, policy, and practice: When allocated nursing students, registered nurses should have their workloads adjusted because being supportive of nursing students and providing them with learning opportunities is time consuming. Further research is recommended to determine if patient workloads are being decreased when registered nurses are allocated nursing students.

What is already known about the topic?
• Registered nurses struggle to find the time to support nursing students with their clinical learning.
• Management tend not to recognise the time and effort registered nurses dedicate to student learning.
What this paper adds:
• Registered nurses perceive supervising nursing students as an added extra on top of their already
heavy workload.
• Registered nurses want to be acknowledged for their contribution to student learning.

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