Health professional training programs generally require clinical, workplace-based education prior to degree attainment. Much of this clinical education occurs in teaching hospitals, and therefore academic partnerships between universities and teaching hospitals are crucial to sustaining and advancing clinical education. Throughout this paper, university refers to an academic institution that provides education programs in the pursuit of a degree, masters or doctoral studies, where we are specifically focusing on health professional education programs.
Clinical practice is a pivotal part of nursing education. It provides students with the opportunity to put the knowledge and skills they have acquired from lectures into practice with real patients, under the guidance of registered nurses. Clinical experience is also essential for shaping the nursing students ‘identity as future professional nurses. There is a lack of knowledge and understanding of the ways in which students learn practical skills and apply knowledge within and across different contexts, i.e. how they apply clinical skills, learnt in the laboratory in university settings, in the clinical setting.
Nursing students do not automatically possess the ability to transfer knowledge from one setting to another; rather, their development is shaped by their experiences and interactions with others when they meet real patients. The study revealed different ways in which students navigated tensions related to power differentials. Reflecting on actions is a prerequisite for developing and learning practical skills and professional identities.