Background Pre-registration nursing programmes aim to prepare students to function effectively within an environment that provides front-line health care, with the over-riding concern being patient safety. Exhibiting the ability to assess practice-based situations and make decisions is critical to demonstrating effective clinical, professional and leadership competence. Aim This small scale qualitative study explores first year student nurses’ understanding of the importance of recording achievement of practice competence and identifying the factors which influence them when prioritising completion of their Practice Assessment Record. Participants were drawn from a University in the North West of England, UK. Method Designed as an exploratory study inspired by a phenomenological approach. Data was collected through interviews and analysed using Colaizzi’s approach to qualitative thematic analysis. Results Participants experienced wide variation in learning opportunities, availability of mentors and mentor engagement in the assessment process. Some levels of resistance from mentors is unavoidably influenced by clinically orientated priorities which is not always fully appreciated by first year student nurses. Two themes: Unwarranted Variation and Unknowingly Ill-informed, revealed that the importance of practice learning experiences, the acquisition of competence and the subsequent recording of those achievements was understood by students, but not always by mentors. Conclusions • Students understood the importance of acquiring competence from their practice learning experiences. • Student’s experience inconsistencies and wide variation in learning opportunities, availability, and engagement, of mentors. • Resistance from mentors is unavoidably influenced by clinically orientated priorities, not always appreciated by students.
- Practice learning. Mentor support
- Practice assessment
- Inconsistent experiences