Research in action: the impact of a research placement on student nurses’ use of evidence in clinical practice

Lynch, Catherine (2022) Research in action: the impact of a research placement on student nurses’ use of evidence in clinical practice. Doctoral thesis, University of West London.

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Clinical research units have not traditionally been used as placement areas for student nurses. Despite a focus on evidence-based practice in the student nurse curriculum, the theory-practice gap continues to be well reported in the literature (Salifu et al., 2019) and has more recently been re-branded as the “research-practice” gap. This research study asked, “how does the experience of ‘research in action’ impact on student nurses’ engagement with research and enable their use of evidence to underpin clinical practice?”
A scoping review identified pockets of practice areas in the UK where placements in research units were being tested (Harrison, 2014; Naylor et al., 2014). Raising the profile of research across healthcare professions is a strategic priority for professional organisations, including universities, who are involved in healthcare delivery in the UK.
A placement in a clinical research unit for student nurses was created as part of a three-phase action research study; based on an adaptation of Crotty’s (1998) research design, using a multi-paradigm model of constructivism and critical realism. 12 students completed a two-week placement in the testing phase of the study. The placement design was revised, and eight students completed a four-week placement. Student participants kept diaries and were interviewed about the effect of the placement on assessment, engagement, and confidence with research.
The findings of this action research study show that student nurses benefited from an increased awareness of how research is carried out in the practice setting and improved their confidence in questioning in practice. They also benefited from being mentored by clinical research nurses with excellent communication skills. However, the existence of research units and the role of the clinical research nurse remains mostly covert. There is a suggestion that student nurses have an over-dependence on the internet for critical appraisal of evidence. Assessment of student nurses in practice needs to use the vocabulary of research to enable student nurses to make the connection between research placement experience and achieving placement competencies.
Whilst the global pandemic limited this study to three action research cycles, the model allowed for a method of enquiry where change and improvement informed each successive phase of the study. The findings pointed to a lack of critical appraisal skills in student nurses however, exposure to a research environment increased engagement with the research process.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Medicine and health > Nursing > Nursing practice
Medicine and health > Clinical medicine > Clinical care
Medicine and health > Clinical medicine
Depositing User: Catherine Lynch
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2022 10:48
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2022 10:49


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