What’s the best cure for the flu? (This isn’t a trick question). Is it ginger ale and chicken broth? Sleeping all day? A nightcap of good whiskey?
Correct answer: not getting the flu in the first place.
All right—maybe it was a bit of a trick question. But the point is that significant measures can be taken to prevent contracting certain illnesses. For instance, a healthy diet, consistent exercise, and a faithful sleep routine go a long way in bolstering your immune system. Why wait for the flu to hit you when you can lead a health-conscious lifestyle that helps to avoids it? It’s not a bulletproof plan, but it’s a lot more effective than its alternative.
So when we talk about our nation’s current problem with nursing engagement, why does the conversation usually begin in the professional clinical setting? According to a recent study conducted at Longview University Center at the University of Texas at Tyler, a nursing student’s capacity for future engagement in a professional setting very much begins during nursing school.
“Nursing Student Engagement: Taking a Closer Look”
Nursing students at UT-Tyler were given a “Student Engagement Questionnaire” which included 35 questions using a 1-5 Likert Scale, and 2 open-ended questions:
“What are the best aspects of the program?” and “What aspects are in most need of improvement?”
Researchers arrived at three major conclusions regarding the questionnaire responses:
1) Collaborative learning environment = group and teamwork skills that translate to clinical settings
“Active learning is a component of engaged learning. Active learning can be fostered into discussions. This stimulates students into supporting their points, and at the end, creates a collaborating learning environment. These types of discussions will provide teamwork and group communication skill development which is highly needed within clinical settings.”
2) Smaller campuses = better student teamwork and better teacher-student relationships
While the smaller classroom model is well-established in all educational disciplines as a means for student-to-student engagement and student-teacher engagement, the point here is that these dynamics developed in a learning environment transition readily to the sort of unit teamwork and communication between unit and unit leadership that boosts clinical engagement.
3) Students reflecting on the care they give = better quality care and personal stress management strategies
The study asserts that engagement in an educational environment translates to engagement in a clinical environment. In conjunction with their studies, students should be exposed to strategies for stress management, relaxation, and reflection as the ability to decrease stressors helps to increase all aspects of engagement.
Stress Management During School Leads to Stronger Professional Team Skills
The UT-Tyler study discusses the value of a stress management program that university currently has in place:
- Program is held three times throughout each semester
- Includes stress management, time management, professional boundaries, and test anxiety
- Individual sessions are available for scheduling throughout semester
The researchers assert that “when students are better prepared to deal with the diverse and numerous stressors, they will be more successful with their studies, the transition into practice, and the actual care environment.”
Based on the experience and responses of UT-Tyler students, the study makes the following recommendations:
- “Group learning (including individualized feedback) toward increasing effective ’teamwork’ which is a job requirement for quality nursing care today
- Ensure all educators are engaged and committed to student learning to assist
in creating both healthy and beneficial well-rounded student outcomes;
- Encourage roles which develop well-roundedness, reflection, preparation, commitment, caring, sharing and openness within the learning environment as these will become part of the students’ sense of engagement and important components of their skill sets once they graduate.”
Give Students the Engagement Tools They Need to Transition to the Workplace
Enter EngagedNurse, an online collaborative community and resource center where nurses can share their stories while offering advice and mentorship to each other.
If students are provided with this incredible resource, it will help to supplement their teamwork skills and ongoing sense of engagement, in the classroom and on into the clinical world.
For more information, join EngagedNurse on the following platforms: