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  • Educating registered nursing and healthcare assistant students in community-based supportive care of older adults: A mixed methods study

Educating registered nursing and healthcare assistant students in community-based supportive care of older adults: A mixed methods study

Pesut, B., McLean, T., Reimer-Kirkham, S., Hartrick-Doane, G., Hutchings, D., & Russell, L. B. (2015). Nurse Education Today. Volume 32 Issue 9, 142-151. 10.1016/j.nedt.2015.07.015


Background: Collaborative education that prepares nursing and healthcare assistant students in supportive care for older adults living at home with advanced chronic illness is an important innovation to prepare the nursing workforce to meet the needs of this growing population.

Objectives: To explore whether a collaborative educational intervention could develop registered nursing and healthcare assistant students' capabilities in supportive care while enhancing care of clients with advanced chronic illness in the community.

Design: Mixed method study design.

Setting: A rural college in Canada.

Participants: Twenty-one registered nursing and 21 healthcare assistant students completed the collaborative workshop. Eight registered nursing students and 13 healthcare assistant students completed an innovative clinical experience with fifteen clients living with advanced chronic illness.

Methods: Pre and post-test measures of self-perceived competence and knowledge in supportive care were collected at three time points. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to evaluate the innovative clinical placement.

Results: Application of Friedman's test indicated statistically significant changes on all self-perceived competence scores for RN and HCA students with two exceptions: the ethical and legal as well as personal and professional issues domains for HCA students. Application of Friedman's test to self-perceived knowledge scores showed statistically significant changes in all but one domain (interprofessional collaboration and communication) for RN students and all but three domains for HCA students (spiritual needs, ethical and legal issues, and inter-professional collaboration and communication). Not all gains were sustained until T-3. The innovative community placement was evaluated positively by clients and students.

Conclusions: Collaborative education for nursing and healthcare assistant students can enhance self-perceived knowledge and competence in supportive care of adults with advanced chronic illness. An innovative clinical experience can maximize reciprocal learning while providing nursing services to a population that is not receiving home-based care.

This article is open access and can be downloaded for free HERE.


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