Nursing educators' perspectives of nursing students with disabilities
Ashcroft, Terri J.
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This grounded theory study explored Canadian nursing educators' perspectives of nursing students with disabilities. Seventeen faculty members from four western Canadian nursing education programs participated in semi-structured interviews. Data consisted of interview transcripts, demographic forms and field notes. Data analysis was conducted as described by Strauss and Corbin (1998). Transcribed interviews were examined using a fluid and dynamic process of examination of interviews, open coding, axial coding and selective coding. the theory of producing competent graduates emered from the data, with the central category being supporting students on the path to competent graduate. Producing competent graduates was described as a linear process, commencing when the students enter the program and culminating when they successfully complete their education. Participants believed studens with disabilities could become competent graduates. The educators' perspectives of these learnes was best captured by the term "wary challenge". Participants' perspectives of nursing students with disabilities were influenced by the context of nursing education programs, attributes of the nursing educator, perceived attributes of the environment and perceived student attributes. These attributes influenced how the educators worked with disabled students seeking to become competent graduates. Most learners were seen as proceeding along the path to competent graduate at a steady pace. Some students. both those with and those without disabilities, were identified as sometimes being at academic risk. Educators offered myriad supports, including developing reasonable accommodation for clinical courses. Most students returned to the path to competent graduate, while a few continued to experience difficulties. These situations compelled the nursing educators to engage in deep, deliberate consideration as they sought to balance the students' rights with the imperative of patient safety. The unique aspect of decision making when working with students with disabilities was "where do we draw the line". Recommendations for nursing education include improving faculty knowledge regarding disabilities and instituting clearer guidelines for developing and communicating accommodation in the clinical setting. Recommendations for future research include developing a better understanding of nursing educators' perspectives of disabilities and what influences those views.