Assessing the clinical capabilities of Maternal, Child and Family Health Nursing students

Author: Katie Lucas

Lucas, Katie, 2015 Assessing the clinical capabilities of Maternal, Child and Family Health Nursing students, Flinders University, School of Medicine

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This research study focuses on the clinical assessments developed for registered nurses enrolled in Maternal Child and Family Health (MCaFH) nursing postgraduate programs. The findings of this qualitative descriptive study describe the assessment methods and documentations used to assess the clinical capabilities of MCaFH nursing students on professional experience placements.

At the commencement of this research study it was anticipated that there was a limited amount of research available on the best assessment practices to determine the clinical capability of MCaFH nursing students, and the literature review supports this. There is a vast amount of literature on the clinical assessment of undergraduate nursing and allied health students. However the literature does not extend to providing an understanding of the best assessment practices of postgraduate students completing speciality practice placements.

The main finding from the interviews conducted with the education providers of MCaFH nursing programs, was that there were similarities and differences evident between the assessment methods and documentation used to assess the clinical capabilities of students on placement. The similarities centred on a continuous assessment process which used a clinical portfolio or journal to frame the assessments conducted over the duration of the placement.

The differences highlighted by this research centred on the type and duration of the placement offered, the assessment of clinical skills, the inclusion of autonomous practice and reflection as an assessment item and the role and function of a clinical preceptor. A finding of this research was that the type and duration of the clinical placement, and the quality and capability of the preceptor to make an accurate determination of a student’s performance impacted the assessments used to determine a student’s clinical capability on.

Lastly, it was identified that students were benchmarked against differing sets of competencies that were state and territory based, because currently national MCaFH nursing clinical competencies do not exist. While students were still assessed against competencies, they were only deemed clinically capable in the state to which the competencies pertained and therefore there is no evidence of a national clinical capability benchmark for the entry of students into the profession of MCaFH nursing.

The study findings provide insights, new knowledge and recommendations into the assessment methods that can be used to assess the clinical capability of MCaFH nursing students on professional experience placements.

Keywords: MCaFHN, clinical capability, clinical assessment, professional experience placement, student, assessment

Subject: Nursing thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2015
School: School of Medicine
Supervisor: Dr Linda Sweet