An analysis of the assessment of clinical learning in a nursing diploma programme in Kigali Health Institute in Rwanda.
Kayihura, Camille N.
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Assessment of clinical learning is imperative in order to ensure that those who become registered nurses are safe and competent practitioners. Assessment of clinical skills requires evaluation of the development of appropriate knowledge, skills and attitudes. Literature however reveals that the measurement of clinical skills performance continues to pose a challenge for nurse educators, the debate around the best assessment method in clinical learning, as well as, validity and reliability in assessing clinical learning is ongoing. This study was therefore aimed at exploring and describing current practices in assessment of clinical learning in a nursing diploma programme in Kigali Health Institute in Rwanda. The study was a quantitative descriptive exploratory design. Data were collected through the use of questionnaires. Nurse educators, students and external examiners were asked to report on the assessment strategies commonly used in Kigali Health Institute, their views about assessment strategies, and the strengths and weaknesses of clinical assessment strategies used in a nursing diploma programme in assessing practical competences of nursing students. The total number of participants who returned questionnaires in this study was 117. The results of this study revealed the commonly used assessment strategies included OSCEs (100%), case presentations (66%), direct observations (38%), standardized patients (31 %) and reflective diaries (2%). Furthermore, assessments were based on clinical learning outcomes. Assessments were conducted formatively and summatively to ensure validity in assessments and to ensure that a variety of clinical learning areas were assessed. Although there was no documented structured process of conducting clinical assessments, the findings revealed that the process included a number of phases; planning, preparation, implementation and evaluation phases. There were measures in place to ensure validity and reliability in assessments. The need for a policy on clinical learning assessment emerged so as to serve as a guide to ensure consistency in conducting assessments. The need to build the capacity of nurse educators and external examiners also came up as very few had educational preparation for their roles. Most of them were specialists in the discipline not in nursing education. The findings also revealed that not all nurse educators were involved in decision making regarding clinical assessments for quality assurance purposes. Issues such as welcoming of students on the assessment day, giving of instructions to students, time spent on performing tasks, feedback to students, returning to tasks which were not completed and improvising during assessments due to limited resources emerged as areas of concern. Recommendations made are related to the assessment process, the building of capacity of nurse educators and external examiners, preparation of students for clinical learning assessment, and further research for the in-depth exploration of this area.