Nursing students' expectations of their first clinical placement: A qualitative study

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Background: Clinical placements are a source of meaningful learning that directly impacts professional development. During the first clinical placement, nursing students' expectations are not always fulfilled, which can lead them to feel lost. Objective: To explore nursing students' expectations before the start of their first clinical placement. Methods: Descriptive qualitative study. Participants consisted of second-year nursing students studying at a Spanish public university. Data were collected through a semi-structured interview before the start of the first clinical placement. The data were analyzed using thematic analysis, as proposed by Braun and Clarke. Results: This study included 15 students (2 men and 13 women; age 19–23 years), which was sufficient to reach data saturation. We identified 176 codes, grouped into three categories: a) Expectations of clinical placements: this category highlighted the desire to learn, to integrate theory into practice, to feel fulfilled and students' observation that they lacked knowledge of the role of family and community nurses. b) Motivations to attend clinical placement, commitment, and willingness to learn. c) Personal weaknesses, such as insecurity and inexperience, especially regarding techniques and procedures. Conclusion: The expectations identified in this study serve to illustrate the need to rethink the strategies that should be used to ensure the success of clinical placements and manage students' stress levels. Further research should explore how these perceptions impact on their performance or change after the end of clinical placements.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104736
JournalNurse education today
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Clinical placements
  • Motivation
  • Nursing students
  • Qualitative research


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