Clinical audit in nursing education: Towards better care of future generations
Dr. Aidah alkaissi
An-najah National University, faculty of medicine and health sciences, Nursing and Midwifery Department
Introduction. According to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, a clinical audit is “A quality improvement process that seeks to improve patient care and outcomes through systematic review of care against explicit criteria and the implementation of change. Aims of the clinical audit is designed to help students to achieve the following goals, Graduates will be (1) knowledgeable (2) skilful (3) dutiful (4) ethical
Methodology. Every nursing student should grasp the opportunity to become involved in an audit by applying the clinical audit programme. This program offers nursing curriculum during which students learn, inter the concepts of evidence based nursing and quality improvement, including the nature and characteristics of clinical audits. In Year 4 (final year), the clinical audit programme is undertaken by all students concurrently with their clinical rotations. Students are required to complete an audit using 20–30 patient cases. The topic may be chosen from any clinical discipline. Most students select their topics from a list of quality improvement priorities identified by participating health services. Audits undertaken by students have included as examples hand hygiene, pressure ulcer, thromboembolism prevention in hospital inpatients, control of Infections. Students are provided with a clinical audit handbook. School of nursing provides support in the forms of lectures, web-based resources on the School portal, question-and-answer sessions, and a panel discussion with health service personnel, including representatives of Clinical Quality and Safety Committees from participating health services.
After analyzing the data and generating the results, students work with stakeholders to form an action plan that addresses possible improvements, including what needs to be done, who needs to do it, and a timeframe for completion.
Subsequently, they disseminate audit results and recommendations to all stakeholders, and note their reflections about working with colleagues, change management, professional challenges and the like for inclusion in their report. Students have 32 weeks to complete their clinical audit and are advised to spend an average of 3h per week on the audit. The final report includes a section for students to reflect on what they learned by undertaking the audit.
Conclusion. Clinical audit exists to improve the quality of patient care and clinical practice. Given the necessary time and resources, nursing students can confidently audit their practice.
Key words. Clinical audit, nursing student, quality management, evidence based practice