‘She would wash the patients as if she was scrubbing a dirty plate in the sink’: exploring nursing students experiences of care delivery

Kirsten Jack*, Tracy Levett-Jones, Robin Ion, Jacqueline Pich, Roberta Fulton, Anna Mari, Claire Hamshire

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
93 Downloads (Pure)


While much is known about nursing students' clinical placement experiences in general, less has been reported about their specific encounters with poor care delivery. A few small-scale qualitative studies have been undertaken, which suggest that nursing students do witness poor care but often decide not to act on what they see. This study sought to explore a wider international perspective on this issue.

To explore nursing students' experiences of the care delivery practices witnessed during clinical placements and to provide descriptions of poor care.

Setting and participants
Nursing students from undergraduate pre-registration nursing programmes across three universities, two in the United Kingdom (UK) and one in Australia.

Design and analysis
A qualitative/quantitative survey design was utilised, and data were descriptively analysed.

Two hundred and sixty-five students participated in the study. Overall the results were positive. Nevertheless, the participants did provide multiple and recurring examples of poor nursing care which related to a lack of compassion, poor communication, unkind and indifferent provision of personal care, and patient safety. Reporting of poor care was viewed as difficult and many participants highlighted potential repercussions should they take this course of action.

This research provides contemporary international insights into care delivery practices from the perspective of a large number of nursing students. The results, although mainly positive, outline multiple examples of poor and ineffective practice. While the precise prevalence of these remains unknown, educators, practitioners and students should consider how best to address them when they occur.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104444
Number of pages9
JournalNurse Education Today
Early online date19 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Poor care
  • Nursing students
  • Compassion
  • Vulnerability
  • Personal care


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