Journal of Nursing Education

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Major Articles 

Academic Success, Clinical Failure: Struggling Practices of a Failing Student

Alix McGregor, EdD, RN

  • Journal of Nursing Education. 2007;46(11)
  • Posted November 1, 2007

Abstract

ABSTRACT

In the deficit model approach to clinical evaluation, failures to achieve established academic or clinical standards are attributed to a flawed educational process or, more commonly, to nursing students’ personal characteristics. Little is known about the meaning and significance of failing to students. Their perspective is lost among the plethora of clinical-like external criteria that predict the pathway to failure. Not all nursing students can be successful, yet when failure is the outcome, students’ dignity, self-worth, and future possibilities must be preserved. Through a Heideggerian interpretative reanalysis of a individual example of an academically successful nursing student who failed clinically, this article discusses the consequences of disconnection in student-faculty relationships. The theme Preserving Personhood: Closing Down on a Future of New Possibilities is presented, as well as two subthemes—Struggling as Adopting a Chameleon Cloak and Struggling as Disconnecting Relations. A deeper understanding of students’ clinical failure can help explain why failure, a socially constructed phenomenon, matters to nursing. Relational pedagogical practices to guide clinical educators in helping students at risk of failing are also discussed.

AUTHOR

Received: January 23, 2005

Accepted: September 20, 2006

Dr. McGregor is Associate Professor, York University School of Nursing, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The author thanks the students who participated in her dissertation study and acknowledges Dr. Nancy Diekelmann’s steadfast support throughout this Heideggerian interpretative case reanalysis.

Address correspondence to Alix McGregor, EdD, RN, Assistant Professor, York University School of Nursing, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M3J 1P3; e-mail: alixmcg@yorku.ca.

Abstract

ABSTRACT

In the deficit model approach to clinical evaluation, failures to achieve established academic or clinical standards are attributed to a flawed educational process or, more commonly, to nursing students’ personal characteristics. Little is known about the meaning and significance of failing to students. Their perspective is lost among the plethora of clinical-like external criteria that predict the pathway to failure. Not all nursing students can be successful, yet when failure is the outcome, students’ dignity, self-worth, and future possibilities must be preserved. Through a Heideggerian interpretative reanalysis of a individual example of an academically successful nursing student who failed clinically, this article discusses the consequences of disconnection in student-faculty relationships. The theme Preserving Personhood: Closing Down on a Future of New Possibilities is presented, as well as two subthemes—Struggling as Adopting a Chameleon Cloak and Struggling as Disconnecting Relations. A deeper understanding of students’ clinical failure can help explain why failure, a socially constructed phenomenon, matters to nursing. Relational pedagogical practices to guide clinical educators in helping students at risk of failing are also discussed.

AUTHOR

Received: January 23, 2005

Accepted: September 20, 2006

Dr. McGregor is Associate Professor, York University School of Nursing, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The author thanks the students who participated in her dissertation study and acknowledges Dr. Nancy Diekelmann’s steadfast support throughout this Heideggerian interpretative case reanalysis.

Address correspondence to Alix McGregor, EdD, RN, Assistant Professor, York University School of Nursing, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M3J 1P3; e-mail: alixmcg@yorku.ca.

ABSTRACT

In the deficit model approach to clinical evaluation, failures to achieve established academic or clinical standards are attributed to a flawed educational process or, more commonly, to nursing students’ personal characteristics. Little is known about the meaning and significance of failing to students. Their perspective is lost among the plethora of clinical-like external criteria that predict the pathway to failure. Not all nursing students can be successful, yet when failure is the outcome, students’ dignity, self-worth, and future possibilities must be preserved. Through a Heideggerian interpretative reanalysis of a individual example of an academically successful nursing student who failed clinically, this article discusses the consequences of disconnection in student-faculty relationships. The theme Preserving Personhood: Closing Down on a Future of New Possibilities is presented, as well as two subthemes—Struggling as Adopting a Chameleon Cloak and Struggling as Disconnecting Relations. A deeper understanding of students’ clinical failure can help explain why failure, a socially constructed phenomenon, matters to nursing. Relational pedagogical practices to guide clinical educators in helping students at risk of failing are also discussed.

AUTHOR

Received: January 23, 2005

Accepted: September 20, 2006

Dr. McGregor is Associate Professor, York University School of Nursing, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The author thanks the students who participated in her dissertation study and acknowledges Dr. Nancy Diekelmann’s steadfast support throughout this Heideggerian interpretative case reanalysis.

Address correspondence to Alix McGregor, EdD, RN, Assistant Professor, York University School of Nursing, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M3J 1P3; e-mail: alixmcg@yorku.ca.

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