Learning in primary health care settings: Australian undergraduate nursing students’ perspectives

Lisa Mckenna, Arlene Parry, Catherine Kirby, Kara Gilbert, Rose Griffiths


Objective: Primary based health care is increasing. While student clinical placements in primary health care are not new, little is known about what students can learn and there is little evidence around the value they add to overall clinical learning. This study explored undergraduate nursing students’ experiences of learning in two primary health care settings: general practice and Royal District Nursing Service.

Design: A qualitative design using semi-structured interviews and focus groups was chosen. Data were analysed thematically.

Methods: Nine undergraduate students undertook voluntary one-week placements in each of general practice and district nursing. Following completion of placements, students were interviewed about their placement experiences and focus groups were undertaken with the nurses involved in the study from both the GP setting and District Nursing setting.

Results: Three key themes emerged: broadened perspectives, where students’ initial perceptions of primary health nursing were challenged; skills development, with students receiving opportunities to consolidate previously learned skills alongside new skills to be acquired; and contexts of care, enabling students to see the bigger picture of health care delivery, beyond what is delivered in acute settings.

Conclusions: Nursing students need to be exposed to expanded settings of care in order to fully appreciate autonomous primary health care nursing roles and gain understandings of how this links to care in the acute care setting. Primary health care based placements are also a vital component in workforce planning exposing careers in this setting as sustainable, viable and highly rewarding.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jnep.v4n12p1

Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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