Authors: Bouchaud MT, Swan BA
Nurs Forum. 2017 Jan;52(1):38-49
PROBLEM: With an evolving focus on primary, community-based, and patient-centered care rather than acute, hospital-centric, disease-focused care, and recognition of the importance of coordinating care and managing transitions across providers and settings of care, registered nurses need to be prepared from a different and broader knowledge base and skills set. A culture change among nurse educators and administrators and in nursing education is needed to prepare competent registered nurses capable of practicing from a health promotion, disease prevention, community- and population-focused construct in caring for a population of patients who are presenting health problems and conditions that persist across decades and/or lifetimes. While healthcare delivery is moving from the hospital to ambulatory and community settings, community-based educational opportunities for nursing students are shrinking due to a variety of reasons, including but not limited to increased regulatory requirements, the presence of competing numbers of nursing schools and their increased enrollment of students, and decreasing availability of community resources capable and willing to precept students in an all-day interactive learning environment.
METHODS: A detailed discussion of one college of nursings' journey to find an innovative solution and approach to the dilemma of limited and decreasing available community clinical sites to prepare senior level prelicensure baccalaureate nursing students for healthcare practice in the twenty-first century.
FINDINGS: This article demonstrated how medium/maximum prisons can provide an ideal learning experience for not only technical nursing skills but more importantly for reinforcing key learning goals for community-based care, raising population-based awareness, and promoting cultural awareness and sensitivity. In addition, this college of nursing overcame the challenges of initiating and maintaining clinical placement in a prison facility, collaboratively developed strategies to insure student and faculty safety satisfying legal and administrative concerns for both the college of nursing and the prison, and developed educational postclinical assignments that solidified clinical course and nursing program objectives. Lastly, this college of nursing quickly learned that not only did nursing students agree to clinical placement in an all-male medium- to maximum-security prison despite its accompanying restrictive regulations especially as it relates to their access to personal technology devices, but there was an unknown desire for a unique clinical experience.
CONCLUSION: The initial pilot program of placing eight senior level prelicensure baccalaureate nursing students in a 4,000-person all male medium- to maximum-security prison for their community clinical rotation has expanded to include three state-run maximum all male prisons in two states, a 3,000-person male/female federal prison, and several juvenile detention centers. Clinical placement of students in these sites is by request only, resulting in lengthy student waiting lists. This innovative approach to clinical learning has piqued the interest of graduate nurse practitioner (NP) students as well. One MSN, NP student has been placed in the federal prison every semester for over a year. Due to increasing interest from graduate students to learn correctional health nursing, the college of nursing is now expanding NP placement to the other contracted maximum-security prisons. This entire experience has changed clinical policies within a well-established academic culture and promoted creative thinking regarding how and where to clinically educate and prepare registered baccalaureate nurses for the new culture of health and wellness.