Clinical education is a vital part of the curriculum for health care professionals as it prepares students for the realities of their professional role and allows them to begin integrating theory, clinical knowledge and practical skills. Previous research has found that preclinical programs enhance student confidence and comfort in the clinical setting, and that students value the ‘real life’ learning experiences and the consequent professional socialisation that occurred as a result of the program. The aim of this research was to determine if involvement in a volunteer feeding assistance program in an acute care setting develops preclinical skills in postgraduate Nutrition and Dietetics students from an Australian University. Two focus groups (n = 11) and individual interviews (n = 5) were held to examine students’ perceptions of the value of the involvement in a volunteer feeding assistance program in the development of their clinical skills. Focus groups and interviews were audio recorded, transcribed by the researchers and entered into a word processing document for analysis. Data were analysed for recurrent themes using thematic analysis. Three major themes emerged which were accepted as being representative of the data: (1) development of communication skills; (2) learning to work independently and with others; (3) dealing with people from a variety of backgrounds. This involvement enhanced students’ understanding of the importance of patient‐centred care, appropriate nutrition and hydration in the clinical setting, and provided an opportunity to develop preclinical skills.
|Number of pages
|Published - 2016