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Studying what to study: Sciences integral to nursing education but largely undersigned in planning

Studying what to study: Sciences integral to nursi
Photo: Studying what to study: Sciences integral to nursi
A recent study has found that despite the importance of sciences in nursing curriculum, there is a lack of research on what must by taught to best prepare nursing students for the field.

Led by lead author Melanie Birks with the Centre for Nursing and Midwifery Research, College of Healthcare Sciences at James Cook University, the study employed a cross-sectional survey completed by academics who teach science in nursing programs.

“That a lack of confidence exists in students and RNs in establishing knowledge linkages between bioscience in theory and practice raises questions about the quality of learning and teaching strategies employed,” Birks and team wrote. “However, several strategies for teaching bioscience content were evident in the literature. A clear emphasis on stimulating the learning of bioscience content through the use of clinically relevant case studies and examples was encouraged.”
The research in the paper looked to establish what science topics are taught in undergraduate nursing programs in Australia and what priority is given to the teaching of the content.
Out of the small population of educators who teach the sciences in nursing programs, 30 completed the survey.

“Findings indicate strong support for the teaching of science in these programs, with particular priority given to the basic concepts of bioscience and gross system anatomy,” the researchers wrote. “Of concern, most science subject areas outside of these domains were ranked as being of moderate or low priority.”

The study team noted that the small sample size limited the conclusions able to be drawn, but that previous studies have also indicated inadequacies in the teaching of nurses when it comes to science.

“These findings have raised questions about the current philosophy that underpins nursing education in Australia and whether existing practices are clearly focused on preparing students for the demands of contemporary nursing practice,” Birks and team concluded.  “Academics responsible for the design and implementation of nursing curricula are encouraged to review the content of current programs in light of the findings of this research.”

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