Expectations of nursing students prior to a skills-based exam performed in clinical practice

Mariette Bengtsson, Birgitta Dahiquist, Elisabeth Carlson


Students perform bedside exams in different real life settings and their performance are assessed. They are prior to and during the exam nervous, and for that reason make avoidable mistakes. The aim was to explore undergraduate nursing students’ feelings, reasoning, and preparations prior to a skill-based exam performed in clinical practice. Data was collected by interviews performed as unstructured everyday dialogues based on two main questions: “Tell me how you feel when you think of the coming skill-based exam, and how are you reasoning and prepare for this exam”. Eigtheen Swedish nursing students (17 women and 1 man, median age of 28, range 22-43 years) in their final semester of a three-year nursing programme were interviewed. The collected data were analysed by content analysis, and the findings were interpreted into one theme, Balancing fear with competence, which is a metaphor for students' turbulent emotions and thoughts prior to a real life skill-based exam. The subthemes Being in an emotional turmoil, Attaining increased knowledge and skills and Preparing for collaboration comprise the different experiences. The students were fearful of failing and were focused on the assessment itself, which created nervousness, and stress. They expressed a lack of self-confidence, and were not sure of their capability after three years of nursing studies. By supporting the students to develop their awareness of their own theoretical knowledge as well as their emotional, practical, and interpersonal skills by using different teaching methods, the students might handle the stressful nature of a bedside exam better.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jnep.v6n8p22

Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

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

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