The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2006 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

WHAT STUDENTS NEED TO KNOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF THEIR LEARNING EXPERIENCES AT THE BEDSIDE

Kathy Jones-Boggs Rye, Ed.D., R.R.T.; University Arkansas Medical
Sciences  & Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, Little Rock, AR.

Background: Expert clinical support for the bedside learning experiences of respiratory care students is often provided by volunteer preceptors who are also staff respiratory therapists (RT) with an assigned workload for the day. These preceptors are often challenged by a vicious cycle of short staffing, heavy workloads, and mandatory overtime. Prior research has shown that it is less attractive to preceptors to precept the students if their own personal productivity is affected.1 The purpose of this research is to illuminate what preceptors believe students need to know to make the most of their learning experiences at bedside and at the same time ensure the preceptor's personal productivity remains at an acceptable level.

Methods:
This qualitative study explored the attitudes of 45 participants in a respiratory care clinical education preceptor training program at a large urban children's hospital.  An open-ended critical-incident questionnaire was administered to preceptors during the workshop. The questionnaire was modeled after an instrument used by Dunlevy & Wolf in their 1994 study which explored the clinical learning experiences of allied health students.2

Results:
A phenomenological approach was applied to study the experiences of those who are involved in an ongoing experience of preceptorship. Preceptors revealed the characteristics and behaviors of students who were the most enjoyable to instruct and those who interfered with his/her personal productivity. Furthermore, preceptors imparted recommendations that students can use to become more effective learners in the clinical environment.

Conclusions:
Preceptors who are experienced in helping RT students accomplish goals bring to light what students need to know to prepare themselves for the optimal educational experience at the bedside.  The two trends that emerged from the analysis were 1) Attitude is everything! 2) Students who desire effective learning experiences must be proactive and communicate their own strengths and weaknesses to the preceptor. The major incentive for RTs volunteering for clinical teaching is personal satisfaction.1 To make certain that preceptors continue to volunteer, educational programs must continue to monitor the increasing pressures on their preceptors and ensure that the goals, processes, support and rewards for clinical teaching are apposite. Furthermore, programs must ensure that students are highly prepared in the affective, as well as cognitive and psychomotor domains prior to entry into the clinical phase of the program.

1Rye KJ, Boone EL, & Neal-Rice H. The meaning of preceptorship in respiratory care clinical education. [Abstract] Respiratory Care. 2004; 49(11):1380.

2Dunlevy CL & Wolf KN. Clinical learning experiences of allied health students. AARC Distinguished Papers Monograph. 1994; 3(1):3-10.


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