n Africa Journal of Nursing and Midwifery - Experiences of first-year nursing students at a public nursing college in South Africa

Supplement 1
  • ISSN : 1682-5055


The transition from secondary to tertiary education presents unique challenges for first-year nursing students. In addition to the challenges experienced by all first-year students at a tertiary education institution, first-year nursing students have to adapt to the unique realities of clinical practice environments, as their education and training incorporate an almost equal amount of time for class attendance and clinical practice placement. The aim of the study was to explore and describe the experiences of first-year nursing students in the comprehensive four-year diploma programme. A qualitative, explorative, descriptive and contextual approach was used. Fourteen second-year students from two nursing college campuses were interviewed for the study. Semi-structured individual interviews were conducted. The participants were asked to reflect on their experiences of the first year of the nursing programme. Interview sessions were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim by one of the researchers. The findings indicated that the majority of the students' experiences in their first year of study were negative. These negative experiences were related to the campus management as well as the specific experiences that were related to their knowledge and skills acquisition in both the classroom and in clinical practice environments. It is recommended that nurse educators and professional nurses in clinical practice environments should aim to optimise the teaching-learning environment of first-year nursing students in order to improve student retention and graduation.

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