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Nurse education

How do we ensure that what we teach in university is applied in nursing practice?

3 Sep, 17 | by atwycross

Written by Dr Amelia Swift @nurseswift

This week’s EBN Twitter Chat on Wednesday 3rd May between 8-9 pm (UK time) is being hosted by Dr Ameila Swift (@nurseswift) from the University of Birmingham and Professor Alison Twycross (@alitwy), Editor of EBN. This Blog provides some context for the Chat. To participate in the chat you need a Twitter account; if you do not have one you can create an account at You can contribute to the chat by sending tweets with #ebnjc included within them.

Teaching and learning in nursing can be thought of as happening in two separate locations: the university and the clinical environment.  The separation between the two has long been understood to be problematic for several reasons including

  • difficulty applying in practice the theory has been taught in the university
  • a mismatch between what is taught in university and the reality of practice.

This theory-practice gap causes anxiety for students and a sense of inadequacy for the newly qualified nurse.  These feelings are enhanced by the attitudes and behaviours of some qualified staff that denigrate the nurse education system rather than support it.

The problem is not confined to students and newly qualified nurses though – being a nurse requires a commitment to life-long learning in order to keep up to date and deliver the best care. The NHS responds to this need by providing opportunities for updates, often in the form of lectures and workshops – a relatively cheap way to educate large numbers of staff.  These teaching methods are often relied upon in University teaching too due to the large numbers of students and the breadth of the curriculum.  However, these education strategies have limited impact and their success has tended to be evaluated using pre and post knowledge testing.  This evaluation strategy has the effect of demonstrating the short term success of education but doesn’t examine longer term behavioural change or sustained use of the new strategies.

There are a number of different methods that could be used to create sustainable good practice and when necessary behavioural change, underpinned by a sound evidence base.  Students themselves want more skills teaching in the University setting, educationalists want to create teaching resources that bridge the two environments using mobile technology, and we recognise the need to generate lifelong learning skills for our students and qualified staff that will enhance the ability to both learn and to teach or challenge.

Here are a couple of questions that we will be discussing during the Twitter Chat:

1) What methods have you come across that effectively bridge the theory practice gap and ensure knowledge is used in practice?

2) What are the most sustainable and effective teaching methods used in the clinical practice environment to ensure knowledge is used in practice?

3) How do universities and clinical areas work better together to educate tomorrow’s nurses to ensure knowledge is used in practice?


“Extraordinarily diverse??” – beyond the marketing rhetoric of corporate academia

6 Aug, 17 | by josmith

Dr Fiona McGowan, Cordinator Global Health and Quantified Self, School of Healthcare Studies, Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands

e-mail –

Say Burgin’s recent blog in the Times Higher Education (May 20th 2017)

highlighted how both racial and gender discrimination remain rife within higher education and refers to the persistent and deeply embedded lack of will at managerial level for any real and meaningful change. Why?   “Because what an absence of will comes down to is a fierce protective impulse for a status quo that benefits those who are already in power – in universities or anywhere else”. How true this is. And even more shocking is the extent that those in power will employ what appears as non-discriminatory terminology and policy to further enforce the position of white male privilege in academia. Figures show that the institutions gave their bosses above-average pay increases of up to 13 per cent in 2015-16.

One such example is that of a post 1992 university in the Greater London area, which proudly promotes itself as being one of the “most diverse” institutions, promising students the experience of belonging to a “global family”. Really? Scratch away the glossy veneer of inclusive language to reveal what lies beneath. A corporate plan that boasts a remit of 28,000 students from a 120 countries worldwide. Impressive? Certainly, especially considering the financial bounty attached to those recruitment figures. Yet….93% of those students are from the UK, with 52% from the immediate locality. Somehow these figures appear to have been” lost in translation” – how is this indicative of a global student body? Or how does this illustrate a cohort – again to quote their corporate jargon – as being “extraordinarily diverse”.


Supporting newly qualified nurses into the world of work

30 May, 17 | by dibarrett

Jane Wray, Senior Research Fellow, Director of Research, School of Health and Social Work, University of Hull

Finishing university and starting employment is an exciting time for newly qualified nurses. It’s the beginning of what is generally a long, successful and exciting career within the profession. It can, however, also be a stressful or challenging time as they make the transition from student nurse to registered, fully autonomous practitioner. Newly qualified nurses can feel that they are unprepared for their new role and the demands made upon them (Feng and Tsai, 2012); this can lead to stress and dissatisfaction (Edwards et al. 2015), and some decide to leave the profession within a year of qualifying. This results in significant personal costs for individual nurses and has an impact upon employers, organisations and patients.


Do we need to rethink how we educate healthcare professionals about pain management?

30 Apr, 17 | by atwycross

Do we need to rethink how we educate healthcare professionals about pain management?

This week’s EBN Twitter Chat on Wednesday 3rd May between 8-9 pm (UK time) is taking place live from the British Pain Society’s (@BritishPainSoc) Annual Scientific Meeting in Birmingham. The chat will focus on whether we need to rethink how we educate healthcare professionals about pain management. The Twitter Chat will be hosted by Dr Ameila Swift (@nurseswift) and Professor Alison Twycross (@alitwy). This Blog provides some context for the Chat.

Participating in the Twitter Chat

Participating in the chat requires a Twitter account; if you do not have one you can create an account at You can contribute to the chat by sending tweets with #ebnjc included within them.

Current approach to pain education

The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) have published curricula for pre-registration training for healthcare professionals (see: These consist of lists of topics specifying the knowledge students need to obtain about pain management during pre-registration courses. This reflects the traditional approach to curriculum design where learning outcomes focus on theoretical knowledge and pay little attention to application in practice. Indeed, research in this area has tended to focus on knowledge and curricula deficits (Briggs et al. 2011, Twycross & Roderique 2013). As patients of all ages continue to experience unnecessary unrelieved pain (Twycross & Finley 2013; Meissner et al. 2015) there is a need to explore ways of ensuring knowledge is used in practice. This is timely because the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) has named 2018 the Global Year for Excellence in Pain Education (see:

Is part of the problem the way we evaluate the education provided?A literature review of research into pain education, conducted for this blog, suggests the impact of educational interventions does not look beyond three months with most studies only assessing pre- and post-intervention knowledge gain. Students and junior staff feel powerless and might ‘shy away from their incompetence’ in treating patients when management is not straightforward (Tellier et al. 2013), demonstrating the gap between increased knowledge and increased competence.


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