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Practice tutors' readiness to support nursing students who require reasonable adjustments for clinical placement

22 February 2024
Volume 33 · Issue 4



Preregistration nursing students (trainee nursing associates and student nurses) may have a disability or impairment that requires reasonable adjustments while they are on clinical placement. At The Open University, practice tutors support nursing students on clinical placement, which includes overseeing the facilitation of any such reasonable adjustments. However, they may not feel prepared to provide this support.


A qualitative approach with a broad interpretivist paradigm was adopted. Data were collected from three focus groups that included a total of 10 nursing practice tutors. Audio data were transcribed and analysed using complete coding followed by thematic analysis.


Three main themes were identified – it's complex; impact of engagement; and a cohesive approach – along with associated subthemes.


Despite their clear interest in helping nursing students who require reasonable adjustments for practice-based learning, practice tutors can be hindered by barriers resulting from a lack of both training and guidelines. The complexity of the practice tutor role and student issues can compound this. Consistency in practice tutor training is recommended, as well as regular access to peer support to address these difficulties and develop the skills and knowledge.

In the UK, preregistration nursing students (trainee nursing associates and student nurses) include those with a disability or impairment who may require reasonable adjustments to maximise their achievement of practice-based learning proficiencies. Examples include hearing loops on telephones and altered shift patterns (King, 2019). Under the Equality Act 2010, this support must be available to these nursing students to maintain their quality of working life and to ensure equitable access to effective learning opportunities.

Provision of this support is co-ordinated by the students, clinical practice staff and university-based staff. Facilitation of reasonable adjustments can vary, which can have a negative impact on a student's practice learning experience (Foster et al, 2015; Craig et al, 2023). Students report that effective support from university and clinical staff regarding organising reasonable adjustments while on clinical placement can enhance their learning and help them maintain their progression through their preregistration nursing programme (King, 2019).

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