Differences in clinical experiences of ADN and BSN students.
Prior research has suggested that clinical experience for nursing students is stressful. Concern about making an error and harming the patient, limited knowledge and skills for practice, and difficulties in interacting with the teacher and others in the clinical setting are some of the stressors reported by students. Few studies have compared these stresses and the clinical experiences in general between students in associate degree (ADN) and baccalaureate (BSN) nursing programs. The purposes of this research were to compare the clinical experiences of ADN and BSN students at different levels in the programs and describe these experiences from the students' perspectives. As such, both quantitative and qualitative data were collected from 415 students in ADN and BSN programs in the Midwest. The ADN students reported significantly higher stress in clinical practice than BSN students (t = 2.16, p < .05). The stress experienced by ADN and BSN students in clinical practice increased as they progressed through the programs. The semester prior to graduation was the most stressful time in terms of clinical practice for both ADN and BSN students. The instructor was the predominant stressor reported by students in ADN programs across all levels of the curriculum. Among BSN students, the most prevalent stresses were coping with demands associated with patient care and the clinical teacher. The findings highlight the important role of the clinical faculty in both types of nursing programs.
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