Title: Anxiety and first practicums: Teaching techniques to improve nursing students first clinical experiences
First practical experiences are often some of the most stressful and anxiety-inducing elements of the curriculum for nursing students. Survey-based studies suggest that feelings of self-doubt regarding lack of preparedness and anxiousness about making mistakes and patient safety are some common concerns driving these fears and anxieties. Evidence also suggests that nursing instructors can alleviate these feelings by reinforcing practices like self-reflection among their students and fostering learning environments that promote mentorship and open asking of question. This study involves 58 nursing students in an undergraduate nursing program who were interviewed regarding their feelings about their first practicum experiences. Interview results found that 98% of students experienced anxiety related to their first clinical experience and 70% of students reported that certain strategies by their instructors, like encouraging asking of questions, could make their practicum experiences more positive and less stressful. These findings suggest that faculty orientations that train nursing instructors in evidence-based techniques that alleviate practicum-related anxiety among students could be effective ways to relieve stress and improve the overall clinical experience for students. Further research is warranted into how to better target teaching strategies based on specific demographic and needs of individual students.