Matt Carey



Aim The aim of this study was to explore the influence of peer-assisted learning (PAL) on enhancing the learning of undergraduate nursing students in clinical practice. Background PAL is an initiative whereby students acquire knowledge and skills through the active help provided by peers. PAL currently exists within academic and clinical skills settings to support the enhancement of student knowledge. Despite this, there has been limited exploration of PAL in the area of nursing clinical practice. Methods A three-phase approach was adopted. Firstly, a qualitative systematic review on the experiences of undergraduate nursing student in PAL in clinical practice was conducted. An ethnographic approach was used in Phase two to observe student nurses engaging in PAL, across two fields of child health and adult nursing within two clinical settings. In the final Phase, a meta-ethnography was conducted to synthesise all findings within the previous two phases and develop a new conceptual model for PAL. Findings Three main themes arose from the first two phases that then informed Phase three. Here a conceptual model for PAL was created, underpinned by four themes and six sub-themes: 1) ‘Social’ whereby ‘connecting with peers’ is an important part in peer-assisted learning. 2) ‘Enabling’ each other through ‘collaborative support for advice and guidance’ and ‘reducing anxiety/increasing confidence.’ 3) ‘Organisational’ aspects are important in ‘establishing structure and navigating practice’ as well as ‘establishing the role of the PAL.’ 4) Finally ‘learning’ knowledge and skills through ‘sharing of practice experience’ and ‘enhancing knowledge of care.’ Conclusions The study adds new knowledge about the value of PAL among nursing students in clinical practice and provides a conceptual model that has never before existed. By learning together, student nurse peers support each other, to learn and develop the skills required to make them into proficient nurses of the future.

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