Rebecca McDiarmid and Donna Burkett have evaluated a clinical coaching pilot for Nursing students.

As it is one of the requirements for all registered nurses, all nursing graduates must be able to demonstrate competency in observing and assessing others, and giving direction and delegation to others. Even immediately after graduation any nursing graduate may find themselves in a work environment where they are the most senior or indeed only registered nurse. But this particular competency can be difficult to learn because the students have limited opportunities to practice these skills before graduation. To address this need, our School of Nursing has piloted a new initiative in 2018.

This year every third year nursing student participated in two laboratories of two hours each with first year students. They were there to provide "clinical coaching" to the first year students. Each third year student was assigned to two or three first-years, to observe and assess them as the first-years learned a new clinical skill. In the process the third-years were practising observational assessment and giving direction and meaningful feedback. 

Two of the lecturers, Rebecca McDiarmid and Donna Burkett, carried out research to evaluate the success of the pilot for the third year students. Their survey found that 

  • The pilot initiative did give the third year students the opportunity to practise and enhance their mentoring skills
  • Their confidence in their own skills increased
  • They appreciated the opportunity to build collegial relationships with the first year students
  • 91% felt they had they had an increased ability to articulate the required competency

This last point is consistent with the lecturers' observation that this year the students' portfolios include greater use of concrete examples to evidence this competency.  Anecdotally the first year students also benefited from the pilot, for example they appreciated the opportunity to ask questions of someone to whom they could relate easily. The success of this pilot means the initiative will be repeated in 2019, with some minor improvements prompted by feedback by the third year students.

January 2019