Facilitator versus preceptor: which offers the best support to undergraduate nursing students?
INTRODUCTION: There is an abundance of literature regarding factors that influence student learning within the clinical environment. Within this discourse, there is a paucity of research on the impact of supervision models on the learning support needs of students. This paper presents the results of research that focused on nursing students' perceptions about the effectiveness of the support they received during their work integrated learning (WIL) experience. BACKGROUND: The majority of students placed within health care facilities are in groups. The group model incorporates a facilitator who supervises the students who are placed across a number of wards. At the ward level students are then assigned a Registered Nurse (RN) who is their mentor. This occurs on a shift by shift basis. Another model of clinical supervision involves preceptorship. This approach is via a one-on-one supervision of students. Within the preceptorship model, students are supervised by a RN who is responsible for supporting them during their WIL experience and for completing their assessment. METHODS: This study compared two models of clinical supervision to better understand the learning support needs as perceived by undergraduate nursing students during their WIL experience. Survey method using a self reporting online questionnaire developed by the researchers was used to collect data. RESULTS: 159 undergraduate nursing students enrolled in a Bachelor level programme of study completed the on-line survey. When comparing the two models of supervision, students supervised within the facilitator model were statistically more likely to be challenged to reflect, think, build on existing skills and knowledge and to problem-solve issues. Notably, all factors integral to RN education. Overall, students considered the quality of support to be the most important facet of supervision. CONCLUSIONS: The findings of this study demonstrate that the facilitator model is the better approach for the development of critical thinking, but both models enable the development of a student's professional identity and the development of their role within nursing. This highlights the significance of clinical experiences during undergraduate nursing education