A Matter of Affirmation: The Value of Practice Experience for Postregistration Nursing Students

Year: 1992

Author: Taylor, Beverley J.

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Fresh from a Master of Education course, which had been served with heavy portions of reflective processes a la Schon, and the emancipatory power of critical approaches a la Habermas and his contemporaries, I was fired up to set nurse education at Deakin University alight with hope for taking fresh looks at power structures and relationships in nursing. Five years down the track the fires of revolution are still flickering, but I have faced the possibility of change negotiated as a person by person phenomenon, rather than as a cathartic sweep. Tired from the battle of producing rapid change in nursing and disillusioned with the casualties of nurses, who have tried to overtake the fortresses of resistance, I have settled on a less war-like approach, that is, I have revisited and fortified one of my most cherished beliefs, that nurses are people with practice experience to be valued and nurtured. This is an attempt to help win the war against mediocrity in nursing practice by facilitating small gains here and there in the combatants of practice. It is a very simple teaching strategy, one which has been used many times before in other teaching settings. My contribution towards bringing changes to habituated nursing practice is to help to take the blinkers off the eyes of the troops, so that they can retire from the front line battle of nursing practice to tutorial sessions for a while, to see the value of their practice experience and how this experience informs their nursing knowledge and skills in sophisticated ways. My paper will trace some of my teaching/learning experiences as a nurse teacher, in which I have been able to affirm the value of nursing practice as the key strategy for making registered nurses their own best teachers.