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The South African Military Nursing College Pupil Enrolled Nurses’ experiences of the clinical learning environment

Ernestina M. Caka, Sebi Lekalakala-Mokgele

Health SA Gesondheid; Vol 18, No 1 (2013), 11 pages. doi: 10.4102/hsag.v18i1.611

Submitted: 11 July 2011
Published:  06 June 2013


The study focused on the clinical learning experiences of Pupil Enrolled Nurses (PENs) within the military health service. The purpose of the research was to explore and describe the learning experiences of PENs within the Military health clinical learning environment. An explorative, descriptive, contextual design which is qualitative in nature was used to guide the study. The military as a training institution prides itself on preparing nurses both as soldiers and nurses, this could be both challenging and exasperating for students, as the scopes are diverse. Being notably very hierarchical, the military’s rules constantly take precedence over nursing rules. For the duration of nursing training, students are allocated in the clinical learning area to acquire competencies such as problem solving, cognitive and psychomotor skills (Kuiper & Pesut 2003:383). Students learn how to merge theory and practice and apply theories in the practical sense. This is however, not done in isolation from the military codes, as they are intertwined. Attendance of military parades and drills are incorporated during this phase. This could create missed opportunities from the clinical learning as students are expected to leave the clinical setting for this purpose. Three focus group sessions were conducted and the experiences of the students, as narrated by themselves, yielded valuable insights. The researcher wrote field notes and assisted with the management of the audio tapes for easy retrieval of information. Data was analysed by the researcher, independent of the cocoder. Two themes relating to the PENs’ learning experiences emerged from the data analysed: (1) facilitators of clinical learning, (2) and barriers to clinical learning. The findings obtained depicted those factors which facilitated and obstructed student learning. These findings made it possible for the researcher to make recommendations concerning positive interventions which could be taken to enhance learning.

Die studie het gefokus op die kliniese leerervarings van leerling-ingeskrewe verpleegkundiges (LIV’s) in die militêre gesondheidsdiens. Die doel met die navorsing is om die kliniese leerervarings van LIV’s binne die militêre gesondheidsomgewing te verken en te beskryf. ’n Verkennende, beskrywende, kontekstuele ontwerp, kwalitatief van aard, is gebruik om die studie te rig. As ’n opleidingsinstituut roem die weermag hulle op die opleiding van verpleegkundiges as soldate, en nie slegs verpleegkundiges nie. Dit kan uitdagend sowel as frustrerend vir studente wees omdat die omvang van hierdie opleiding so divers is. In die weermag, bekend vir sy hiërargie, geniet militêre reëls gedurig voorrang bo verpleegkundige reëls. Vir die duur van die verpleegopleiding word studente aan die kliniese leerareas toegewys om vaardighede soos probleemoplossing en kognitiewe en psigomotoriese vaardighede te bekom (Kuiper & Pesut 2003:383). Studente leer hoe om teorie en praktyk te verenig en teorie in die praktyk toe te pas. Dit word egter nie geïsoleerd van militêre kodes gedoen nie, aangesien dit alles vervleg is. Bywoning van militêre parades en drilsessies moet in hierdie fase geïnkorporeer word. Dit kan tot verbeurde kliniese opleidingsgeleenthede lei, aangesien daar van studente verwag word om die kliniese omgewing vir hierdie doeleindes te verlaat. Drie fokusgroepsessies is gehou en die ervarings van die studente, soos deur hulleself vertel, het waardevolle insigte gelewer. Die navorser het veldnotas gemaak en was behulpsaam met die hantering van bandopnames om die herroeping van inligting te vergemaklik. Die navorser het die data onafhanklik van die medekodeerder geanaliseer. Twee temas met betrekking tot die leerervarings van LIV’s het na afloop van die data-analise aan die lig gekom: (1) fasiliterende faktore vir kliniese leerervaring, (2) struikelblokke tot kliniese leerervaring. Die bevindinge dui op faktore wat die studente se leerervaring fasiliteer, asook struikelblokke tot leerervaring. Na aanleiding van hierdie bevindinge het dit moontlik gemaak vir die navorser om aanbevelings te maak aangaande positiewe intervensies wat toegepas kan word ter bevordering van die leerervaring.

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Author affiliations

Ernestina M. Caka, University of Limpopo, Medunsa Campus, South Africa
Sebi Lekalakala-Mokgele, University of Limpopo, Medunsa Campus, South Africa


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