Nursing Online – February 2009

Reflections on nursing

The Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing continues to provide a valuable forum for original nursing research and scholarship. The latest edition of AJAN is available online at Highlights include:

Reflections on nursing: how changes to the Australian research system will work to nurses’ advantage
Extract from a guest editorial by Mary Courtney, RN, BAdmin(Acc), MHP, PhD, FRCNA, AFCHSE, Assistant Dean (Research) Faculty of Health, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

The change in the Australian Government’s strategic direction clearly highlights the future opportunity for nursing research to be positioned at the forefront of health science research endeavours. The move away from commercialisation as a primary outcome to the exclusion of public good outcomes offers nursing research the chance to expand the already substantial impact it has made on the health of the public. Nursing research is well positioned to be at the forefront of addressing the national health priorities of health promotion and disease prevention and improving the quality of life through self-management, symptom management and care provision as well as leading research in addressing end-of-life issues.

As we look ahead and governments eventually come to understand the significant social benefits and public good outcomes achieved by nursing research, it is my dream that nursing research will receive the funding it deserves in order to address some of the most important health care issues confronting our society.

The duration of clinical placements: a key influence on nursing students’ experience of belongingness
Tracy Levett-Jones, Judith Lathlean, Isabel Higgins, Margaret McMillan

This paper reports selected findings from a study that investigated nursing students’ experience of belongingness. The manner in which this experience is influenced by the duration of students’ clinical placements is the focus of the discussion. The setting for the study was two Australian universities and one university in the United Kingdom offering undergraduate nursing programs. Third year undergraduate students (n=362) were recruited into the study. The main outcome measure was the nurses’ experience of belongingness and the influence of the duration of clinical placement on the experience of belongingness.

The study found that students’ self-concept, degree of self-efficacy, confidence, resilience, willingness to question or conform to poor practice, career decisions, capacity and motivation to learn were all impacted by the extent to which they experienced belongingness.

The study concluded that a consolidated period of practice for students to ‘settle in’ and establish collegial relationships is an important influence on their experience of belonging and a necessary precursor to their active and participative learning.

Mature learners becoming registered nurses: a grounded theory model
Vicki Drury, Karen Francis, Ysanne Chapman

This study describes how mature aged people reconstruct themselves as nursing students. The study was undertaken at the rural campuses of two major Australian universities. The universities were in two different states of Australia. Data was gathered through semi-structured interviews and focus groups over an 18-month period between January 2006 and June 2007, with 14 mature-aged undergraduate nursing students. These students were in the second or third year of three-year baccalaureate degrees that led to registration as registered nurses.

The paper argues that mature aged undergraduate students have different needs to younger students including academic and pastoral support, on-campus subsidised childcare and creative timetabling.

Palliative care in a multicultural society: a challenge for Western ethics
Keri Chater, Chun-Ting Tsai

This paper examines the notion of truth telling and its place in palliative care nursing with a particular focus on nursing people from minority cultures. The subjects are patients receiving palliative nursing care particularly those from minority cultures.

The paper argues that Australia is a multicultural society yet its dominant ethical paradigm is firmly placed in the Western philosophical tradition. The fundamental concept that Western ethics is based on is that of autonomy, which implies that the individual is a free agent able to make their own decisions including accepting or rejecting medical treatments.

This paper argues the Western ethical concepts of autonomy and truth telling in the practice domain of palliative care nursing may not be appropriate for different cultural groups. The paper concludes with an option for nurses working in multicultural societies, which accommodates differing cultural perspectives while not compromising the ethical principle of truth telling.