THEORY – PRACTICE GAP

Introduction

The theory-practice gap has been an issue in the nursing sector affecting nursing practitioners, teachers, and students. This is because there is a critical difference in terms of how nursing as a course is taught to the students in school and how nursing as a practice is conducted in health care provision. This has left more questions than answeres as to why there exists a gap between the nursing theory and practice.  Therefore, there is need to bridge the gap between theory and practice in nursing as a profession so as to ensure it benefits the public health. This essay, therefore, extrapolates some of the possible strategies as advanced by some researchers that can be used to close the gap between theory and practice.

Discussion

In the nursing industry, the stakeholders are weary of the narrative that shows a wide gap between theory and practice. Of the affected, students tend to be the hardest hit since they are on the verge of professional nursing practice. Ferrara, (2010) observes that, in the nursing field, most students are confronted with difficulties in the theory-practice system. As such, they are mostly challenged in terms of how to respond appropriately in the manner of theory-practice perspective. Thus, the students are unable to extrapolate whatever the nursing practice requires them to, and that which they learn in a classroom. This has subsequently led to a rise in the theory-practice gap. This calls for strategies that can address the challenge.

According to Ferrara, (2010), as a means to bridge this gap, there is need to expound on the aspect of nursing theory so that the students undergoing nursing training can get prepared in practice aspect as well. This would mean that the trainers in the nursing field need to handle the problem in theory explanation so that the students are equipped with better knowledge that enhances their understanding of the theoretical perspective. It is thus necessary that a quality integration be adopted that brings together both the aspects of theory and practice targeting students and nurses to rely on a healthy nursing practice (Ferrara, 2010)

Additionally, there is a need for integration of theory knowledge and practice knowledge (Holzemer, 2008). Ordinarily, trainers prepare their students for theoretical knowledge and presume that one is then fit to handle practical issues in the nursing industry. Having the theory knowledge is not enough to enable an individual handle the actual practice and give quality results. Therefore, it is paramount that personal knowledge and practice knowledge be imparted to the students. This involves personal knowledge that is closely linked to the theoretical sides being developed under the aspect of practice so that necessary skilled can be developed by learners in the nursing profession.

Another avenue that can be exploited to enable bridging the gap between theory and practice in the field of nursing is expert knowledge. This is a type of knowledge that is very essential in the nursing practice unlike in the process of learning. This is because expert knowledge is important for solving the complex problems that confront the nursing practitioners in their day to day activities. On the other hand, this expert knowledge is complex in the sense that most of the nursing practitioners are not able to explain how they applied it in solving the complex issues they faced in their nursing practice. As a result, it has become another problem in the nursing industry. Consequently, there is need to narrow down this expert knowledge to reduce their technicality so that the students can learn what they are expected to do as well as improve their understanding of nursing practice Rolfe (1993).

Rolfe, (2013) adds that nursing students need to be equipped with the practical knowledge to develop a nursing environment that is healthy. Nurses thus should be equipped with the practical knowledge to enable them handle the issues that will confront them across their field practice. Besides, there is the need for nurses to develop new approaches that can enable them accomplish tasks based on the knowledge learned from their previous activities. Similarly, there is the need for nurses to develop new ways that enable support of their ideas rather than criticize their efforts. This will come in hand towards closing the gap between theory and practice.

Further, another important strategy that can be applied to bridge this gap would be a use of effective teaching strategies. Much akin to other learning areas, research has shown failure among nursing students to be associated with lack of appropriate instructions from their trainers or tutors. A good quality of education offered in the learning institutions can ensure relevant and competent skills are imparted to the nursing students that will in effect help bridge this gap (Hatlevik, 2012). Clear instructions need to be given by the tutors aside from being free with their students. Good communication skills by the instructors and effective training skills if not made a part of the training quality, will deprive the students a lot further widening the gap between theory and practice in nursing (Ferrara, 2010).

Moreover, a mixture of both theory and practice in learning makes learning more real and reduces the abstractness of issues and concepts. Sellman, (2010) observed that there is a difference between what happens in theory and that which happens in practice. Therefore to realize knowledge creation, there is need to merge the two aspects: theory and practice. This implies that the perception that theory exists in class while practice in the field should be refuted and a blend of the two be provided in the learning curriculum.

Conclusion

Some changes can be brought forward in the manner in which knowledge needs to be applied to improve the health care sector. However, without consideration of integration of theory knowledge with practice knowledge; expert knowledge; practical curriculum; and effective teaching strategies very little can be achieved. For that reason, efforts need to be directed towards the above explained to bridge the gap between theory and practice in nursing.

 

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