The impact of preceptorships on Baccalaureate nursing students’ perceptions of care

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Caring is a term that is difficult to define, yet is synonymous with the profession of nursing. Caring can be understood from two major dimensions, or domains, which are instrumental behaviors, comprised of technical and physical caring, and expressive behaviors, including the emotional and psychosocial elements of caring. Clinical education plays an important role in teaching nursing students care ethics throughout the curriculum. Preceptorships refer to a clinical component of nursing education where students are involved in a mentoring relationship with a professional nurse, in which the professional nurse relates information and knowledge to the student to prepare them for their future career. The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine how time spent in a preceptorship experience changed the senior-level nursing students perception of caring. In addition, different types of clinical units and preceptors were explored as a means to changing caring perceptions of the students. The sample included final semester, senior-level nursing students (n=31). Caring perceptions were measured using the Caring Dimensions Inventory (CDI-25). The results of the statistical analysis (Spearman’s Correlation Coefficient, t-test, and descriptive statistics) found a significant relationship between the years of experience of the nurse preceptors and students’ perception of care, but no significant difference in caring perceptions after the preceptorship experience. Descriptive statistical analysis revealed higher CDI-25 scores for students in certain clinical units and for those with a nurse preceptor identified as a facilitator. The results of the study demonstrated that nursing preceptorships can play an integral role in providing caring ethics education within the nursing curriculum.

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