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As a second-year student nurse, my practice has identified the mismatch between theory and practice as a major learning need in nursing. I realized that most of the content learned in class is purely abstract and need to be backed using a practical approach in the field. During the internship, it became apparent that the instructors in college majorly relied on book knowledge that does not offer one the opportunity to develop reflective thinking and the ability to solve unique problems arising in the medical field. For instance, the instruction in class is done generally without narrowing down to the specific individual cases. As I served in the hospital, I experienced this mismatch when one time, I was confronted with an exceptional case of a skin disease which was highly infectious. When I sought the opinion of the supervising nurse, she was equally ignorant. I strongly feel that the relationship between theory and practice should be thoroughly investigated. There was equally lack of committed supervision from my cooperating nurse. As such, I was left to rely on my scanty knowledge got from textbooks. I must confess that nursing became is quite difficult because each year, I was confronted with a unique case that my general knowledge could not tackle.
Literature Search about the Problem
The mismatch between theory and practice in nursing has been investigated by scholars for a long time. According to O’Mara et al. (2014), most student nurses who go for internships are often disappointed to learn that the practical field is different from the mere abstractions in classrooms. This, therefore, forms a learning need that should be assessed in all contexts. This is the idea echoed by Esmaeili et al. (2014) who added that the various nursing curricula are replete with theoretical assumptions that reflect little or nothing at all on the practical practice. The lack of correlation between theory and practice is further worsened by the fact that nurses who are supposed to act as role models treat interns with a negative attitude that does not promote an effective exchange of knowledge in the hospitals.
Theory and practice in nursing is a serious issue worthy of all scholarly attention. Addressing this matter, Hegenbarth et al. (2015) note that contemporary nursing environments are characterized by lack of supportive and helpful consultants who can help interns to relate theory to practice. As a result, a majority of nurses are simply disillusioned. Additionally, reflective learning can only be fostered if cooperating nurses offer a caring atmosphere for this interplay.
Flott and Linden (2016) observe that growth of student nurses is hampered by lack of sustainable supervisory strategies that can strengthen the knowledge acquired in class. The result of this negligence is normally a confusion whereby a nurse does not understand how to blend abstract and concrete information on a patient. Flott and Linden (2016) therefore recommend that for result oriented nursing, a strong support team should be always present to induct the intern nurses so that knowledge is integrated. As Brennan and Bakken (2015) observe, although many scholarly efforts have been devoted to nursing as a practice, there should be a monitoring and evaluation program to assess the correlation between theory and practice.
From the discussions above, I learn that theory and practice should be interrelated in any nursing practice. For best results, all nursing instructors and nurses in hospitals should cooperate to assist students to practice their knowledge acquired in college. This will enhance interplay between abstract and concrete information.
- Brennan, P. F., & Bakken, S. (2015). Nursing needs big data and big data needs nursing. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 47(5), 477-484.
- Esmaeili, M., Cheraghi, M. A., Salsali, M., & Ghiyasvandian, S. (2014). Nursing students’ expectations regarding effective clinical education: a qualitative study. International Journal of Nursing Practice, 20(5), 460-467.
- Flott, E. A., & Linden, L. (2016). The clinical learning environment in nursing education: a concept analysis. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 72(3), 501-513.
- Hegenbarth, M., Rawe, S., Murray, L., Arnaert, A., & Chambers-Evans, J. (2015). Establishing and maintaining the clinical learning environment for nursing students: A qualitative study. Nurse Education Today, 35(2), 304-309.
- O’Mara, L., McDonald, J., Gillespie, M., Brown, H., & Miles, L. (2014). Challenging clinical learning environments: Experiences of undergraduate nursing students. Nurse Education in Practice, 14(2), 208-213.