Bioscience learning in clinical placement: the experiences of pre-registration nursing students: P Fell et al.

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Aims and objectives

The aim of this study was to explore student nurses’ views and experiences of bioscience learning in clinical placement. The study focused on (1) how relevant students perceive bioscience knowledge to their professional role; (2) what opportunities students have to apply bioscience knowledge during clinical placements; (3) what students perceive about the support they receive from placement mentors regarding bioscience learning.


Bioscience knowledge is required for safe and effective practice but is an area that students find challenging. Clinical placements offer students the ideal environment to integrate bioscience into clinical decision making. There is, however, a lack of research addressing specifically students’ placement learning of bioscience.


An explanatory sequential mixed methods approach was adopted.


The research involved two phases. In phase one predominantly quantitative data were collected via a survey. 112 final year BSc nursing students from across fields completed the survey (response rate = 66%). The results of this phase were then built upon by conducting three focus groups (n = 17) in a second qualitative research phase.


Whilst students acknowledged the relevance of bioscience to their nursing role, this study suggests that its importance is not recognised as widely by practice educators. Findings highlight inconsistencies in the quality of mentor support, the opportunities for students to learn and the priority that bioscience is given in placement education.


This study demonstrates the need for more explicit bioscience criteria in placement assessments and a greater level of mentor education to ensure more consistency in the standard of placement learning of bioscience.

Relevance to clinical practice

Providing insight into factors that influence student learning of bioscience during clinical placements provides focus on how higher education institutions and practice educators can better support students to confidently apply bioscience knowledge to deliver safe and effective patient care.

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