Theory – Practice Gap: Challenges Experienced by Nursing Students at the Satellite Campus of a Higher Education Institution in Namibia

Saara Kerthu Hatupopi, Vistolina Nuuyoma


Background: Theory practice gap is the discrepancies found between what students learn in the formal classroom setting and what they experience in the clinical settings.  Observations reveal that nursing as practised is task-centred and students rarely get involved in anything approaching the total care of individual patients, thus leading to theory-practice gap.

Objectives: The study explored and described the challenges faced by Bachelor of Nursing (clinical) honours students when integrating theory into practice in the clinical settings.

Method: The study, which was granted ethical clearances from two institutions, drew on an exploratory phenomenology methodology to gather data from ten nursing students registered at a satellite campus. The participants were purposively selected with data collected via focus group interviews. Thereafter, data were transcribed verbatim and analysed using content analysis. The study data collection and analysis adhered to ethical principles and quality measures in order to ensure credibility, transferability, dependability and confirmability.

Results: Nursing students experience challenges in integrating theory and practice. These challenges are grouped into four themes; theory verses practice, limited resources in clinical settings, discriminatory attitudes and communication barriers.

Conclusion:  Nursing students appreciated accompaniment and supervision by nurse educators. However, the accompaniment’s impact on learning may be undermined through the students’ limited exposure to clinical cases. Therefore, long-term strategies are recommended for effective integration of theory with practice.

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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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