Major Article 

The Clinical Instructor Role in Nursing Education: A Structured Literature Review

Sherry Dahlke, MSN, RN; Jennifer Baumbusch, PhD, RN; Frances Affleck, MN, RN; Jae-Young Kwon, BSN, RN

  • Journal of Nursing Education
  • December 2012 - Volume 51 · Issue 12: 692-696
  • DOI: 10.3928/01484834-20121022-01


A structured literature review was conducted to understand clinical instructors’ perceptions of their role and the factors that facilitate and constrain their teaching in undergraduate nursing programs. The literature published in English between 2000 and 2011 was searched, and data were extracted from 15 articles that met the inclusion criteria. The analysis identified four themes—characteristics of the role, characteristics of effective clinical teaching, influence of the clinical context on the role, and influence of the academic context on the role. Clinical instructors are portrayed as needing to be good educators, as well as excellent clinicians. However, they often lack formal education and professional development opportunities related to the role and must draw on their individual personal and professional experiences to guide their teaching to meet the demands of both the clinical and academic contexts in which they simultaneously work.

Ms. Dahlke is doctoral candidate and Chair, BSN Program, Vancouver Island University; Dr. Baumbusch is Assistant Professor and Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar, Ms. Affleck is Clinical Associate, and Mr. Kwon is Research Assistant, School of Nursing, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

This project was funded by the Elizabeth Kenny McCann Teaching Scholarship Award and the Teaching/Learning Fund, University of British Columbia.

The authors have disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.

Address correspondence to Sherry Dahlke, MSN, RN, Chair, BSN Program, Vancouver Island University, 900 Fifth Street, Nanaimo, BC V9R 5S5, Canada; e-mail:

Received: March 22, 2012
Accepted: June 27, 2012
Posted Online: October 22, 2012



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