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Building capacity for the clinical placement of nursing students

      Summary

      The current workforce crisis mandates that education providers increase the number of graduates from nursing courses. In a practice-based profession however, any growth in student numbers is constrained by the ability of clinical venues to accept students for clinical experience. Factors within the operating environment such as bed capacity, staffing mix and shortage of experienced clinicians to act as preceptors, clinical teachers, mentors or role models; limit the number of students that can be accommodated and both the quality and level of educational support provided. These factors are compounded in rural hospitals, where opportunities for placements can be also overlooked or ineffectively utilised.
      This paper reports on a project undertaken by a rural health service, two universities and a TAFE institute. It demonstrates that a greater number of students can be accommodated when all major stakeholders accept responsibility and agree to work together to create a learning community and find ways to overcome barriers and impediments that constrain capacity. It is concluded that the capacity of a rural hospital to accept students for placement can be increased when cancellation rates are reduced, the clinical timetable rationalised and more collaborative approaches to clinical education are implemented.

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