Attitudes of staff nurse preceptors related to the education of nurses with learning disabilities in clinical settings

by L'Ecuyer, Kristine Marie, Ph.D., SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY, 2014, 212 pages; 3624082
Abstract:
This dissertation presents a quantitative study of the attitudes of staff nurse preceptors toward nursing students with learning disabilities. There are an increased number of nursing students with learning disabilities. These students may have additional challenges in clinical settings, particularly if clinical settings do not understand or support their educational needs. Stigma exists towards people with learning disabilities, and it is unclear if staff nurse preceptors are accepting of nursing students with learning disabilities and willing to serve as a preceptor.
Attitude was measured with the following four constructs developed for this study: perceived levels of preceptor preparedness, level of confidence in implementation of preceptor role, preceptor beliefs of student potential, and agreement with the provision of reasonable accommodations. These constructs were developed through a review of the literature and found to best represent the dynamic relationship between the preceptor and the preceptee.

This study analyzed data from an electronic survey to examine the preceptor's attitudes towards learners with learning disabilities and their willingness to serve in the preceptor role for students with learning disabilities. Preceptor's familiarity with learning disabilities, knowledge of issues related to learning disabilities, and their concerns regarding nursing students and new graduate nurses with learning disabilities were assessed. The preceptor's familiarity with learning disabilities and knowledge of issues related to learning disabilities were low, and their concerns were high. However their attitudes were mixed. Preceptors reported that they were not well prepared and had low levels of confidence in their ability to support and accommodate those with learning disabilities. However, they had strong beliefs in the potential of both nursing students and new graduate nurses with learning disabilities, and they had high levels of agreement that reasonable accommodations should be provided.
The preceptors indicated a high willingness to serve in the role of preceptor for both nursing students and new graduate nurses with learning disabilities. Attitudes toward new graduate nurses with learning disabilities were slightly more positive than the attitudes toward nursing students with learning disabilities, and willingness to precept was higher for new graduate nurses than nursing students. The conclusions of this research are that preceptors are accepting and willing to take on the challenge of precepting nursing students with learning disabilities, however they need information and support from their institutions and nurse educators.
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