Barriers to learning

I was preparing for my presentation in the MAN class. Well, i was assigned to report about Barriers to Teaching and Obstacles to Education with patients being the subject of discussion. However, the whole class was filled with clinical instructors, so I decided to tilt it a little, because our primary clients (aside from the hospital clients) are our students.

These are random barriers of student’s learning in the clinical area:

  1. Exposing students to the “real world nursing.” Prior to hospital exposure, students are trained in the classroom according to the ideal procedures and standards in the book. Exposing them to clinical areas that practice what is not supposedly done (i.e., reusing gloves, reusing syringes, improper turning and positioning by the staff) stirs-ups confusion to student nurses, especially the novice students. At the end of the day, it is always a challenge for the instructors to process the students to talk and settle about confusions and misunderstanding from what is taught and what is actually observed. It is important that students know the correct standards of nursing practice because the exams are basically taken from the “ideal world nursing,” and that is from the book.
  2. Dealing with a “lost” student who is supposedly knowledge and skills-wise prepared for a disease condition or a procedure. This is one of the many common issues that impede learning in the clinicals. Several factors come into play with this. Motivating students is a challenge all teachers face.  Although an RLE group may only consist of 10-13 students, each student brings with them different learning styles, different interests, and different life experiences that make each day in the clinicals unique and special. To address this, the teacher may set reasonable objectives, conduct enrichment activities, utilizing positive feedback, or incorporate different learning styles.
  3. Non-readiness to patient care. I am refering to the student’s lack of knowledge on the client’s health or disease condition. The student in this condition is not prepared to handle certain conditions because the school did not prepare him yet for this. Example, a 3rd year student taking care of a client with Thyroid storm. Although this may be a good opportunity to learn advance concepts, the teacher should not discount the fact that patient safety comes first. Meaning, a student who is not prepared must not receive patients with conditions requiring critical nursing care.
  4. The instructor’s lack of knowledge to a certain procedure or pathology. Some diagnostic tests and new tools may be confusing, especially when it requires training (i.e., use of ventilator machine, cardiac monitor, ECG machine). It is our duty to anticipate for the need to gather information about what is lacking. Asking assistance from the staff nurses or physicians are some of the helpful ways to mitigate the problem.

Reflection: Attitude as a Teacher

Attitude is a key word when it comes to dealing with students. It refers to everything I do or say in class. It can also have some influence over motivating my students. My approach, feelings, sensibility, awareness, alertness, and understanding may somehow become a barrier or even promote learning. However, in the area, it is natural for the CI to be strict because our business is dealing with people’s lives, and we can not afford to risk it with incompetence or negligence.


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Marcus muses on his journey as a young nurse and educator.
September 2008
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