An exploration of the significance of prior clinical practice on the transition of DN graduates to the second year of a BN program

Author: Jessica Stewart

Stewart, Jessica, 2018 An exploration of the significance of prior clinical practice on the transition of DN graduates to the second year of a BN program, Flinders University, College of Education, Psychology and Social Work

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The aim of this research is to explore the significance of Enrolled Nurses (ENs) working experience on the university transition of Diploma of Nursing (DN) graduates entering a baccalaureate-nursing program, having received substantial advanced standing. The study seeks to generate new understandings that will have the potential to influence educational processes and guide the development of strategies to support the transition of DN graduates entering Registered Nurses (RN) studies. There are two different levels of nurses in Australia: ENs, who have undertaken a DN, or equivalent, through Vocational Education and Training (VET), and RNs, who have undertaken a Bachelor of Nursing, or equivalent, in a university setting. ENs and RNs are clearly demarcated professionals, who work in similar settings but under a different scope of practice. DN graduates frequently undergo conversion to RN studies and are often offered significant advanced standing in BN programs at Australian universities. While there is evidence to suggest that these students frequently find the transition from EN to BN undergraduate student difficult, few studies have been found that explore the impact of prior EN experience on the individual’s transition to BN studies. This study adopted an interpretive inquiry approach. Data was generated through the use of Rich Picture (RP) interviews, conducted with six DN-BN students who were recruited during their second semester of university study. The interviews were transcribed and thematically analysed using Lizzio’s (2006) Five Senses of Success (FSS) model as an organisational structure with consideration of relevant theories of learning. The experiences, metacognitive characteristics, motivational characteristics and connections of participants, with and without EN experience, were then compared and analysed. The comparison of the educational transition experiences and learner characteristics of DN-BN students indicated that EN working experience has no impact on the learners’ perceived ability to meet the academic requirements of the BN program, with both groups expressing low academic self-efficacy. EN working experience was also found to have no impact on the learners’ ability to regulate their knowledge or their motivational goals. Participants who had EN work, however, believed their experience enabled them to apply theoretical knowledge in practice and assisted them to develop the skills required to balance university, work and life requirements. While EN experience was associated with an increased sense of interdisciplinary connection it appeared to contribute to a sense of separation from peers. Many DN-BN students are motivated, metacognitive learners who find the transition from DN graduate to BN undergraduate student difficult. DN-BN students often struggle to cope with the increased academic demands of BN studies, particularly when entering the BN program in the second year. The participants of the study highlighted the importance of positive, supportive social peer relationships. It is evident that targeted transitional support from universities and VET providers should focus on supporting the development of academic skills and promotion of the formation of peer relationships in this cohort.

Keywords: Diploma of Nursing, Nursing, Enrolled Nurse, Transition, University Transition

Subject: Education thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2018
School: College of Education, Psychology and Social Work
Supervisor: Professor Janice Orrell