Strategies Useful to Close Theory-Practice Gap
Ideally, it is expected all over the world of academia that what is taught in the lecture rooms by the professors will end up being practised by the students. However, more so in the nursing field, there is a distinguished variance in what is taught in theory and what is actually practised. Basically, this is what is essentially known as the theory-practise gap. As expected, this existing gap has been a cause of concern in the nursing field with stakeholders both students and faculty administrators seeking amicable solutions to narrow this gap. Therefore, this paper will give some possible strategies which may be implemented and aid in the closing of this gap.
Fundamentally, it is imperative to understand why this theory-practice gap exists in the first place to lay the foundation to the proposed strategies. Noteworthy, there are several reasons that have been put forward as to why this phenomenon exist. In principle, the basis revolves around the thought that nursing should and must be practised according to theory otherwise it will be rendered null and void (Stevens, 2013). Notably, this theory is too idealistic and impractical. Further, even when the theory is practical, the nurses tend not to act on it probably due to ignorance or the rigid environment entrenched in the nursing field. As a result, it is imperative to note that the segment who bear the most burden in the theory-practise are the students who often find themselves between the demands of their lecturers and those of the field practitioners. Obviously, this calls for an emotional turmoil which may have an overall negative impact on the performance of the student.
Basically, it is important to have a literature review where in essence a constructivist approach towards the teaching and learning processes will be evaluated (Stevens, 2013). Most beneficial is that this approach encompasses and advocates for the nursing students to be involved in real life situations. Moreover, this helps equip the students with the requisite know-how in handling medical issues. Consequently, this eases the burden of dissemination of knowledge by the faculty professors while making it more recipient-friendly. Noteworthy, this environment makes a student feel involved and an active participants instead of being a passive recipients of theory. For example, a student can be allowed to spend time with a health practitioner on a given patient and follow up on their case. In retrospect, this cultivates an enabling environment where there is little monotony due to the dynamic nature of ailments. Additionally, real life situations invoke critical thinking and analysis on the part of the students (Rafferty, Allcock, & Lathlean, 1996).
Technological advancements have revolutionised most industries and these benefits should be channelled to aid in the bridging of this gap. Specifically, nursing students and practitioners should be equipped with education and training in the handling of emerging clinical technologies (Rafferty, Allcock, & Lathlean, 1996). For instance, students can benefit from software which allows them to practise essential health functions like electronic documentation and health care planning. Notably, all this will be possible by making use of simulated electronic health records. Nonetheless, it does not only end at using this software. In essence, it will prove to be more helpful if the vendors involve the nurses and the health fraternity at large in developing clinical decision, support, and literature. In fact, this has the potential to drastically reduce potential errors and improve clinical coordination. Further, the use of programmable mannequins allows students to practise on the ‘patients’ thus learning and sharpening their skills. Noteworthy, these creations breathe and make sound thereby increasing efficacy in their handling by the nursing students.
On the same vein, the appropriate use of mentorship can lead to a decrease in this gap. In this case, mentorship will require clinical placement exercise of the students to the already existing practitioners in the field. In essence, this will serve the much-needed purpose of enhancing job satisfaction for the nursing student. Noteworthy, this serves a greater role than plainly attaching students to a hospital institution. Notably, the mentor is responsible for guiding the student in the process of seeking competence and garnering the confidence. Importantly, the mentor takes the mentee through all angles of caring and managing emotional trauma associated with caring for a patient and in the unfortunate situation of losing one. Obviously, this trauma cannot be effectively taught in the classroom and only a mentor can help a student deal with it.
Knowledge sharing is another strategy which can potentially yield the much-needed results of bridging the gap. Basically, ways should be explored on how to tap and expand the existing consortiums. For example, national health resource centres can bridge the education and practise gap by sharing research information with medics and students (McCaugherty, 1991). To achieve this, it is paramount to focus more on faculty engagement while simultaneously incorporating clinical tools which are evidence based in the curriculum. Furthermore, the internet has offered a platform where there is a free flow of information which can be a catalyst in the knowledge transfer. Actually, online communities and discussions boards are effective as they cover a wide geographical and virtual area resulting in increased benefits.
Finally, the government and by extension the department of health should facilitate nursing schools with the required help when needed. For example, if they need stakeholders’ review of the curriculum or accompanying teaching aids, the government should provide the necessary resources needed to facilitate these activities. Additionally, it is important for the formulation of policies which require clinical attachments for nursing students from an earlier level. Evidently, this will enable nurses to have a hands-on experience of the clinical life at an early stage in their career development. In general, the government should also be creative in the planning of seminars, boot camps, conventions, and other sorts of functions where health practitioners and nurses may converge and share knowledge. Further, the government should facilitate in making the health software and the needed mannequins affordable to enhance the make-believe experience for the students.
From the discussions above, it is clear that bridging the theory-practice gap essentially calls for the active participation of all stakeholders. Evidently, it is not enough to restructure the faculty operations and practices alone. Rather, there is a need for a collective effort from students, faculty, and the health practitioners. Importantly, this calls for a lot of self-discipline and initiative on the side of students to be able to research and acclimatise themselves with the real life health situations. Further, it is incumbent upon them to identify suitable mentors who will guide them through the journey of the discovery. Moreover, institutions of higher learning should be required to engage in participatory review for strategic planning. Finally, nursing education is a collective effort from a number of key players such as students, universities, and the health practitioners.
Judith, W. (2008). Bridging the theory practice gap. Australian Nursing Journal, 16(4), 25.
McCaugherty, D. (1991). The theory-practice gap in nurse education: its causes and possible solutions. Findings from an action research study. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 16(9), 1055-1061.
Rafferty, A., Allcock, N., & Lathlean, J. (1996). The theory/practice ‘gap’: Taking issue with the issue. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 23(4), 685-691.
Stevens, K. (2013). The impact of evidence-based practice in nursing and the next big ideas. Journal of American Nursing Association, 18(2), 4.