Managing clinical education through understanding key principles

Cunningham, J., Wright, C. and Baird, M. (2015) Managing clinical education through understanding key principles. pp. 257-273. ISSN 00338397 (ISSN)


Background: Traditionally, a practicum facilitated the integration of on-campus learning and practical workplace training. Over the past 3 decades, an educative practicum has evolved that promotes clinical reasoning, including analytical and evaluative abilities, through reflective practice. Anecdotal evidence indicates that the delivery of clinical education within medical radiation science entry-level programs continues to vacillate between traditional practicums and the new reflective practicums. Purpose: To review the literature about clinical education within the medical radiation sciences and identify key principles for practitioners seeking to reflect upon and improve their approach to teaching and supporting students in the clinical environment. Methods: A search of 3 major journal databases, Internet searches, and hand searches of reference lists were conducted to identify literature about clinical education in the medical radiation sciences from January 1, 2000, to December 31, 2012. Twenty-two studies were included in this review. Results The 5 key elements associated with clinical education include the clinical support model and quality, overcoming the theory-practice gap, learning outcomes and reliable and valid assessment, preparing and supporting students, and accommodating differing teaching and learning needs. Discussion Many factors influence the quality of clinical education, including the culture of the clinical environment and clinical leadership roles. Several approaches can help students bridge the theory-practice gap, including simulators, roleplaying activities, and reflective journals. In addition, clinical educators should use assessment strategies that objectively measure student progress, and they should be positive role models for their students. Conclusion: The successful clinical education of students in the medical radiation sciences depends upon the systems, structures, and people in the clinical environment. Clinical education is accomplished through the collaborative efforts of the clinical practitioner, the academic, and the student. Universities should include introductory material on clinical learning and teaching in their radiologic science curriculum.

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