Original Research

Student nurses’ perceptions of guidance and support in rural hospitals

Steppies R. Rikhotso, Martha J.S. Williams, Gedina de Wet
Curationis | Vol 37, No 1 | a1164 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v37i1.1164 | © 2014 Steppies R. Rikhotso, Martha J.S. Williams, Gedina de Wet | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 March 2013 | Published: 19 November 2014

About the author(s)

Steppies R. Rikhotso, Department of Nursing Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Martha J.S. Williams, School of Nursing Science, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa
Gedina de Wet, School of Nursing Science, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa

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Background: Clinical guidance and support of nursing students in rural hospitals is a challenge for novice nurses, who rotate amongst accredited hospitals throughout the province for clinical exposure, and fid themselves in an unfamiliar environment. Theory learned at the training college is integrated with clinical exposure at hospitals and supplemented through teaching by hospital staff. Nursing students complain about lack of support and guidance from professional nurses within the hospital, some feeling restricted in execution of their nursing tasks by professional nurses and other staff. Students perceived negative attitudes from clinical staff, a lack of clinical resources, inadequate learning opportunities and a lack of support and mentoring during their clinical exposure.

Objectives: This article describes perceptions of guidance and support of nursing students by professional nurses in a rural hospital and suggests guidelines for clinical guidance and support of nursing students.

Method: A qualitative, explorative, descriptive and contextual design was used. Two focus group interviews were employed to collect data from a sample drawn from level II nursing students from one training college in Limpopo Province, South Africa, on different days (n = 13; n = 10). Qualitative content analysis was used to analyse data.

Results: Three themes (mutual distrust and disrespect, hospital environment, and clinical guidance and support) and subthemes (student behaviour and staff behaviour) emerged.

Conclusion: Failure to support and guide nursing students professionally may lead to high turnover and absenteeism, resulting in students’ refusal to be allocated to a rural hospital for clinical exposure. Proposed guidelines have been formulated for clinical guidance and support of nursing students at the selected rural hospital. The college and hospital management should foster collaboration between the college tutors and professional nurses to ensure adequate
guidance and support of nursing students.


Student; professional nurse; experience; clinical accompaniment; rural hospital


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