The Nurse Educator in the Clinical Setting

Updated August 4, 2022

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The Nurse Educator in the Clinical Setting essay

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Nursing students are being challenged to think and learn in ways that will prepare them to practice in a complex health care environment. Clinical experiences increase nursing student’s knowledge and their capability to synthesize theoretical knowledge and nursing care (Cowen, Hubbard & Hancock, 2016). Clinical conferences give students the opportunity to share difficulties and feelings about patient care, develop critical thinking skills, describe nursing experiences and learn how to collaborate with others in a group (Vezeau, 2016).

It is a fundamental responsibility of nurse educators to utilize post conferences to assist students in applying their knowledge in practical situations, in developing professional values and in enhancing their problem-solving abilities. It is crucial that nurse educator impart the importance of a comprehensive general survey the significance of post conferences, and debriefing for meaningful learning.

Importance of the general survey

When an experienced nurse encounters a familiar situation, the nurse is able to respond intuitively, based on an immediate clinical awareness. However, the novice or student nurse must reason things through analytically; he or she must learn how to recognize a situation in which a particular aspect of theoretical knowledge applies and begin to develop a practical knowledge that allows for adjustment of task oriented or textbook knowledge. A comprehensive way in which a new nurse can begin to hone assessment skills is by becoming proficient in the general patient survey.

A general survey is an overall review or first impression a nurse has of a person’s well-being. This assessment is done head to toe and it is the introduction to the physical survey that will follow (Jarvis, 2016). It is essential that student nurses are taught to conduct a general survey of their patients before getting involved in nursing tasks. Additionally, Tom can teach Peggy and the other students about clinical reasoning.

Clinical reasoning is the process by which the nurse collects cues to come to an understanding of a patient problem or situation. Effective clinical reasoning depends upon the nurse’s ability to collect the right cues and to take the right action for the right patient at the right time and for the right reason (Levett-Jones et al., 2010). It is essential that the student nurse become attuned to picking up signals about the patient’s status rather than being solely focused on completing the tasks required of the job. Nursing students must be taught to look at the patient holistically rather than as the sum of all of the duties and tasks that must be completed.

Significance of post conferences

Post conferences are an integral part of the clinical experience and can be applied as valuable and creative teaching strategies. The teacher is responsible for planning the discussion so as to meet the clinical objectives, analyze clinical situations, identify problems, ventilate feelings and develop support systems (Vezeau, 2016).

To successfully guide students in the clinical setting, the clinical teacher should use teaching methods that are best practice. Some of these techniques include providing structure and clear expectations and conducting post conferences that serve as appropriate learning opportunities for students (Oermann, DeGagne & Phillips, 2018). Therefore, it critical that as a novice nurse educator, Tom leads an effective session. The Post-conference should focus on what has been done in the clinical setting and should include activities to enhance student learning and linking theory to practice.

Debriefing for Meaningful Learning

According to Heise and Gilpin (2016), nurse educators must include debriefing and student support following a patient death in the clinical setting. Debriefing is used to mitigate emotional reactions, account for actions, and review performance (Dreifuerst, 2015). Dreifuerst (2015) advises nurse educators should try to maintain a balance between emotional release and review of actions in order to achieve optimal learning. Debriefing can provide a forum for Peggy and the other students to reflect upon the situation and deal with any emotions or feelings that may be involved. It is also an opportunity for tom to ensure that the students learn from this situation.

Debriefing for Meaningful Learning (DML) is a method of debriefing that can be used in the clinical area to review patient care, foster reflective thinking, and cultivate meaningful learning (Dreifuerst, 2015). Enhancing context-based learning in the clinical setting is vital to the preparation of safe and knowledgeable nurses, but it can be a challenging task for faculty (Dreifuerst, 2015).

Through the use of Socratic questioning and guided reflection, DML can teach students to challenge preconceived assumptions and uncover relationships between thinking and actions. Socratic questioning is an approach to teaching and learning in which the teacher does not give information or answer students’ questions directly but instead turns the task of uncovering the answer to the student by asking a series of questions so that students come either to the answer or to a deeper awareness of the limitations of their knowledge (Dreifuerst, 2015). Clinical instructors use DML to help students reflect on their practice, demonstrate they can transfer learning from one teaching environment or clinical situation to another, think like a nurse, and apply this information to future patient encounters. The use of DML as a consistent debriefing method can provide the novice nurse educator, Tom, with a process to use in the settings to guide thinking and reflection.


The effectiveness of the clinical teacher is essential to student learning (Oermann et al., 2018). The clinical nurse educator has a fundamental responsibility to shape the learning for nurses in the clinical setting. Therefore, it is crucial that clinical teachers acquire effective teaching strategies, best practices in teaching nursing, and that serve as a resource for students. When the nurse educator teaches the importance of a comprehensive general survey utilizes the clinical post conferences properly and debriefs for meaningful learning, they create a learning environment that is instructive and supportive to students.


  1. Anderson, C., Moxham, L., & Broadbent, M. (2018). Teaching and supporting nursing students on clinical placements: Doing the right thing. Collegian, 25(2), 231–235. doi:10.1016/j.colegn.2017.06.005
  2. Cowen, K. J., Hubbard, L. J., & Hancock, D. C. (2016). Concerns of nursing students beginning clinical courses: A descriptive study. Nurse Education Today, 43, 64–68.doi:10.1016/j.nedt.2016.05.001
  3. Dreifuerst, K. T. (2015). Getting Started with Debriefing for Meaningful Learning. Clinical Simulation in Nursing, 11(5), 268–275. doi:10.1016/j.ecns.2015.01.005
  4. Heise, B. A., & Gilpin, L. C. (2016). Nursing Students’ Clinical Experience with Death: A Pilot Study. Nursing Education Perspectives (National League for Nursing), 37(2), 104–106. doi:10.5480/13-1283
  5. Jarvis, C. (2016). Physical examination & health assessment (7th ed). St. Louis, MI: Elsevier.
  6. Levett-Jones, T., Hoffman, K., Dempsey, J., Jeong, S. Y.-S., Noble, D., Norton, C. A., … Hickey, N. (2010). The “five rights” of clinical reasoning: An educational model to enhance nursing students’ ability to identify and manage clinically “at risk” patients. Nurse Education Today, 30(6), 515–520.doi:10.1016/j.nedt.2009.10.020
  7. Oermann, H,M., DeGagne, J.C., & Phillips, B.C (2018). Teaching in nursing and role of the educator: The complete guide to best practice in teaching, evaluation, and curriculum development (2nd ed). New York, NY: Springer Publishers.
  8. Vezeau, T. M. (2016). In defense of clinical conferences in clinical nursing education. Nurse Education in Practice, 16(1), 269–273.doi:10.1016/j.nepr.2015.10.0
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