Original Research

Professional nurses' understanding of clinical judgement: A contextual inquiry

Anna C. van Graan, Martha J.S. Williams, Magdalena P. Koen
Health SA Gesondheid | Vol 21 | a967 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hsag.v21i0.967 | © 2016 Anna C. van Graan, Martha J.S. Williams, Magdalena P. Koen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 October 2017 | Published: 11 October 2016

About the author(s)

Anna C. van Graan, School of Nursing Science, North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus), South Africa
Martha J.S. Williams, School of Nursing Science, North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus), South Africa
Magdalena P. Koen, School of Nursing Science, North-West University (Mafikeng Campus), South Africa

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Abstract

Higher cognitive skills are essential competencies for nurses joining the technologically and increasingly complex health care environment to provide safe and effective nursing care. Educators and clinical facilitators have recognised that newly qualified nurses do not meet the expectations for entry level clinical judgement and are held accountable for finding adequate learning experiences as preparation for such practice demands. An explorative and descriptive qualitative design was followed in this study to reach an understanding of clinical judgement in the clinical nursing environment from the perspective of professional nurses. Eleven professional nurses (n = 11) working at primary health care clinics, public and private hospitals participated voluntarily. Data was collected by means of the “World Cafe” method, incorporating a combination of techniques such as interviewing, discussions, drawings, narratives and reflection. The focus was on professional nurses' knowledge of the meaning of clinical judgement and factors influencing the development of clinical judgement in the clinical environment. Qualitative thematic content analysis principles were applied during data analysis. The findings were integrated with the relevant literature to culminate in conclusions that should add to the knowledge base of clinical judgement as an essential skill for improving autonomous and accountable nursing care.

Keywords

Clinical nursing environment; Cognitive reasoning skills; Quality nursing care; Nursing student

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