AbstractThis theses examine the maturation of decision-making in a cohort of child health students. At strategic stages during their three-year nurse education programme, students gave consent to be formally interviewed about the way they make decisions and observed undertaking simulated practice. This rich data set is supplemented by critical analysis of key papers from European Government, professional bodies and university documents to provide context and show the drivers for curriculum development. Utilising ethnographic principles the researcher explores decision-making development and presents the students’ view on how nurse education, clinical practice and the role of the mentor moulds a novice practitioner in the first year into a safe and competent decision-maker at registration.
The participant’s interpretation of their developing world and how, at times, it deviates from the curriculum provides interesting reading for the educationalist. The movement from a dependent, subservient neophyte into a confident, competent decision-maker in clinical practice is more, the data suggests, through the fortitude of the participant rather than the skills and tools provided through the timetable. Like many ethnographic studies that examine familiar topics, the results are not always palatable. This study gives insight into the world of the developing decision-maker and highlights how this vital nursing skill of decision-making has been neglected and is deserving of greater prominence in the curriculum. In today’s highly pressurised healthcare system we require skilled nurses able to assimilate, analyse and synthesise information to formulate competent decisions in a time-limited environment.
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