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The process of maturing as a competent clinical teacher Wolff, Angela Christine

Abstract

Clinical nursing teachers are a unique group of academics; they are experts in the art of teaching and the clinical aspects of the nursing profession. A relatively large body of published research substantiates the nature and scope of effective of clinical teaching behaviors as perceived by students and nurse educators. There is, however, a topic that is surprisingly absent from this literature; that is, the study of clinical teachers' competence. For the most part, research has not been conducted to determine clinical teachers' perceptions about their combined competence as teachers and as nurses. The purpose of this study was to describe the process, or processes, by which clinical nursing teachers attain, demonstrate, and maintain competence. Indirectly, this research revealed the factors and situations that either facilitate or hinder the process of becoming competent. A grounded theory design was chosen for this study because this method was most appropriate for exploring a basic social process such as competence. Eleven clinical nursing teachers from three nursing programs in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia were interviewed for this study. Data analysis proceeded according to the method of constant comparative analysis designed by Glaser and Strauss (1967). In an analysis of the interview results, common themes comprise a three-phased process of maturing as competent clinical teachers. The main theme underpinning all three phases of this process was found to be the development of self-confidence. The first phase, dealing with "self learning needs, described a period of adjustment where clinical teachers confronted the difficulties associated with making the transition from a nurse clinician to a clinical teacher. In phase two, clinical teachers built their teaching style. The third phase focused on integrating the complexities of clinical teaching into their practice as educators. Each phase featured a central focus, key strategies, outcomes, conditions, and facilitative factors. The findings also indicated the maturation process was situation specific and context bound. Furthermore, clinical teachers may experience either occasional or overall incompetence. Based on the findings of this study, the implications for nursing practice, education, administration, and research were identified.

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