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The Experience of Making a Mistake in Clinical Practice from a Nursing Student Perspective Open Access


Other title
Nursing education
Grounded theory
Clinical practice
Human error
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Pijl Zieber, Mark
Supervisor and department
Dr. Beverly Williams - Faculty of Nursing
Examining committee member and department
Dr. Liz Taylor - Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine
Dr. David Gregory - University of Regina - External examiner
Dr. Sandra Davidson - Faculty of Nursing
Dr. Judith Spires - Faculty of Nursing
Dr. Carolyn Ross - Faculty of Nursing
Faculty of Nursing

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Background: Making a mistake in clinical practice is a difficult experience for seasoned practitioners as well as nursing students. Although there has been some research in examining the phenomenon of errors/mistakes in experienced practitioners there is nothing that examines nursing students. This issue is important from both a patient safety perspective as well as an educational perspective. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine how undergraduate nursing students experience the process of making a mistake in their clinical practice. Design: A Glaserian grounded theory approach was the initial method utilized although a constructivist approach evolved as the analysis progressed. The following research questions guided this study: 1. What is the experience of making a mistake in clinical practice from a nursing student perspective? 2. What factors and conditions contribute to student error? 3. What recommendations do nursing students have for faculty/staff when dealing with student error in clinical practice? Sample: A purposive sampling technique was used. The sample consisted of second, third, and fourth year nursing students in two institutions. Inclusion criteria were that participants would have made at least one mistake in their clinical practice. The sample consisted of sixteen participants: seven from a large Canadian university and nine from a small Canadian university. Data Collection and Analysis: The process of sampling and concurrent data collection transpired as advocated by the principle of constant comparison. Analysis was accomplished by the dynamic process of open, selective and theoretical coding. Findings: ‘Living the mistake experience’ was the core variable identified in the theoretical model of making a mistake. The theoretical model captures the process that participants experienced during and after they made a mistake.
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