Working with families: from theory to clinical nursing practice

Winsome St John, Karen Flowers
Collegian: Journal of the Royal College of Nursing, Australia 2009, 16 (3): 131-8

AIM: This qualitative study explored clinicians' and educators' perspectives on how knowledge and skills about family assessment and family nursing are translated from student learning to clinical nursing practice, together with barriers and supports for family-centred nursing practice.

BACKGROUND: Previous studies have explored educational preparation for family nursing and indicated that family-focussed nursing contributes to greater satisfaction with practice, however, little research has explored nurses' perceptions about the usefulness of family nursing content and theory in clinical settings.

METHOD: Data were collected from a Canadian school of nursing offering comprehensive undergraduate, postgraduate and staff development workshops in family nursing. Collection methods included participant observation in the school, a review of the school's teaching and learning documentation, and in-depth interviews/focus groups with teachers, students, graduates and workshop participants. Data were collected from 26 current students, undergraduate and postgraduate graduates, workshop participants and teachers from the school. Data were analysed for themes using grounded theory techniques of constant comparison and theoretical sampling.

FINDINGS: It was found that family nursing is more likely to be implemented in clinical practice areas where: patients experience serious or life-threatening illnesses, staff are educationally prepared, there is ongoing mentorship, and management support for family nursing. A family focus is less likely in areas with high patient turnover, such as acute medical-surgical wards.

CONCLUSION: There is a need to adequately prepare nurses for family nursing, provide staff development and management support in the workplace to promote family-centred nursing practice.

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