Assessment of undergraduate nursing students from an Irish perspective: Decisions and dilemmas?

Sara Kennedy, Patricia Chesser-Smyth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Assessment of clinical competence plays a pivotal role in the education of undergraduate nursing students in preparation for registration. The challenges that face preceptors are represented in the international literature yet few studies have focused on the factors that influence the decision-making process by preceptors when students under-perform or appear to be borderline status in relation to clinical practice. This study explored the lived experiences of the preceptors during the assessment process using a phenomenological approach. This was a qualitative study that utilised a phenomenological approach to explore the lived experiences of the preceptors in relation to student assessment of those students who were incompetent and underperformed in clinical practice. Three categories emerged from the findings: First impressions, Emotional turmoil of failing a clinical assessment and competing demands in the workplace. It is proposed that employing a tripartite approach would enhance the assessment process to ensure a more robust and decision-sharing mechanism. This would support decisions that are made in the cases of incompetent or borderline nursing students and increase the objectivity of the competency assessment to ameliorate the emotional turmoil that is experienced by preceptors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-100
Number of pages6
JournalNurse Education in Practice
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


  • Clinical assessment
  • Clinical competence
  • Nursing students
  • Preceptors and clinical assessment


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