A Gap Between Nursing Education and Practice


Nursing is one of the most common occupations in the United States of America as there are many specialized universities all over the country. Students who decided to be medical workers have to study diligently to become professional caregivers in the future. As nurses must work with people who require medical help, they should have a decent educational background. Otherwise, various interventions performed by them might cause harm to one of their patients. The following paper is intended to discuss whether there is a certain gap between nursing education and work or not and the importance of theoretical knowledge implications in practice.

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Nursing Education

To start this discussion, it would be proper to identify several subjects that future nurses study in professional universities or colleges. Basing on this information, it is much easier to make appropriate conclusions as to the main question of the paper mentioned in the introduction section. Depending on their narrow specialization, medical personnel must learn how to assist patients with specific defects, wounds, and other health issues (Blegen, Goode, Park, Vaughn, & Spetz, 2013). There are more than forty separate spheres of nursing (practitioners, educators, and so on). However, there are some general studies that every care provider must know (Papathanasiou, Tsaras, & Sarafis, 2014).

For instance, physiology and gross anatomy is an essential sphere of knowledge that gives a person an understanding of how various processes in the human body are realized. Also, every nurse must know all the standards necessary to ensure medical aid and assistance to people in critical situations and emergencies. Despite all the subjects based on practice, medical workers are also required to know all the rules of professional etiquette, leadership, and other qualities that they must develop in their workplaces regularly to maintain appropriate atmosphere and organization in the hospitals that will employ these students after they graduate.

It would be proper to mention that if a person decides to undergo a nursing educational course, he or she cannot neglect separate studies of it, skip lessons, and not pay attention to what one’s professor says during lectures. Some information acquired while studying at university might become useful or even critical in practice. As people of the discussed occupation will be responsible for the lives of their future patients, every piece of information given during their study course should be remembered. Otherwise, hospital clients might suffer from their assistants’ inability to provide them with the necessary help.

Nursing Practice

As it is mentioned above, nursing is one of the most common professions in the USA. Therefore, it is possible to find a specialized educational institution in every state of the country (Morton & Fontaine, 2017). This sphere is attractive for students as they receive an opportunity to occupy prestigious positions of nurses in the future and contribute to the health conditions of people who require immediate help.

Unfortunately, many individuals are confused when they receive their first workplaces as they understand that all the information they acquired while studying might not be enough in reality. Indeed, they must act according to recommendations of their new colleagues and learn from the actions of other professional nurses or doctors (Papathanasiou et al., 2014). It appears that all the academic data one knows does not fulfill different requirements for working in a professional setting. However, this is only the first impression of graduates who acquire their first jobs. In reality, they just need to analyze every action of their colleagues and adjust their skills accordingly (Morton & Fontaine, 2017). Even the best students might have problems with adapting to new conditions at first. Nevertheless, they train their professional skills and become independent caregivers within the next two to three weeks.

It was said before that nurses have different narrow specializations. Hence, there is no unique probation period or in-depth practice course for every student (Papathanasiou et al., 2014). However, there are certain classes provided in the hospitals that give newcomers an ability to understand local standards of work and their future duties. Although education in college is an essential part of a nursing career, it ensures more academic knowledge that does not always refer to medical workers’ professional responsibilities. Indeed, there are particular differences between education and practice. Nevertheless, these two spheres cannot exist without each other.

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When nurses receive their first jobs, they must assist patients who require medical intervention. The primary goal of these medical workers is to make people feel better, which cannot always be taught with the help of academic research. Personal qualities and traits are as important as theoretical knowledge in the profession of nurses.

A Gap Between Education and Practice

According to the information presented above, there is a certain gap between nursing education and practice as graduates need a particular amount of time to adapt to their working conditions in hospitals or other medical institutions (Papathanasiou et al., 2014). It appears that professional education is aimed at providing students with general knowledge in their spheres of occupation. Unfortunately, there are no studies at universities or colleges that would explain to people their primary duties and responsibilities as nurses.

The majority of medical workers state that graduates must learn from their colleagues’ experiences and actions before becoming independent and uncontrolled employees (Morton & Fontaine, 2017). Nursing is one of the most important professions in the entire world. Minor mistakes or misunderstandings might lead to tremendous unfortunate outcomes.

It would not be appropriate to claim that education is a waste of time. Some people say that nurses obtain the majority of necessary skills at work. Nevertheless, the theoretical part is also essential because it gives beginners an introduction to the world of medicine. If students would not undergo educational courses before being employed, they could not understand some ethical standards of working with patients, the main principles of organization and leadership, and so on (Blegen et al., 2013). Perhaps, theoretical knowledge does not seem to be helpful at first, but it will be useful at a certain moment of one’s nursing career.

In conclusion, it would be proper to state that there is a tremendous gap between nursing education and practice. However, either of these development stages cannot be neglected by a person who strives to become a professional medical worker and make his or her patients benefit from the provided help (Oermann & Gaberson, 2013). It is essential to mention that nurses receive high wages because they are responsible for the health and lives of their patients. Despite all the professional information, they must also learn to cope with stresses, ensure psychological support to their patients and their relatives, and other activities that are not considered at educational institutions. The occupation of nursing requires the personal interest of an individual and one’s effort to understand all the professional nuances.

Some scholars claim that the role of nurses is more important for their patients than that of doctors. Doctors do not have as many contacts with their clients as nurses do (Pijl-Zieber, Barton, Konkin, Awosoga & Caine, 2014). Physicians perform different operations and major treatment processes, whereas their colleagues from nursing departments are responsible for taking care of patients who undergo rehabilitation or other healing processes (Oermann & Gaberson, 2013). The main purpose of caregivers’ education is to understand and give appropriate medicaments to their clients when it is necessary. Also, they must know the general anatomy of the human body to assess different patients’ wounds and damages to identify necessary treatment methods accordingly.


Benefits of Nursing Education

  • Obtaining theoretical knowledge (Pijl-Zieber et al., 2014)
  • Studying general theories regarding health provision
  • Learning the anatomy of the human body
  • Receiving a professional educational background
  • Understanding ethical nursing standards
  • Analyzing academic research in nursing

Differences Between Education and Practice

  • Different responsibilities
  • Different methods of learning
  • Different daily activities
  • Different values (Papathanasiou et al., 2014)
  • Different ethical norms
  • Different educators

The Role of Education in Practice

  • Introducing students to the world of medicine
  • Providing knowledge based on research
  • Learning basic methods of treatment
  • Providing insights to narrow specialties
  • Learning various medicaments (Pijl-Zieber et al., 2014)
  • Preparing students to become nurses

Nursing Practice

  • Gaining experience
  • Observing colleagues’ actions
  • Communicating with patients
  • Assisting patients (Morton & Fontaine, 2017)
  • Providing required medicaments
  • Assessing clients’ health conditions

The Gap Between Education and Practice

  • The lack of experience
  • Different behaviors (Papathanasiou et al., 2014)
  • Working with patients
  • Professional communication
  • Different implications of knowledge
  • The lack of connections

Nursing General Studies

  • Anatomy
  • Ethics (Morton & Fontaine, 2017)
  • Emergency nursing
  • First aid provision
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Healthy lifestyle

Nursing Practitioners’ Environment

  • Professional colleagues
  • Doctors (Oermann & Gaberson, 2013)
  • Patients
  • Superiors
  • Other medical workers
  • Nursing equipment

Nursing Students’ Environment

  • Professors (Oermann & Gaberson, 2013)
  • Professional literature
  • Classmates
  • Other educators
  • Learning materials
  • Research

Nurses’ Responsibilities

  • Providing medicine to patients
  • Consulting patients (Papathanasiou et al., 2014)
  • Educating patients
  • Preparations for operations
  • Assisting patients who rehabilitate
  • Medical examinations

Students’ Responsibilities

  • Studying diligently
  • Performing nursing projects
  • Analyzing academic sources
  • Developing theories
  • Performing research
  • Learning theory (Papathanasiou et al., 2014)

Narrow Nursing Specializations

  • Nurse practitioner
  • Cardiac nursing
  • School nursing
  • Critical care nursing (Morton & Fontaine, 2017)
  • Public health nursing
  • Nursing educator

Nursing Educational Institutions

  • Community colleges
  • Specialized universities
  • Specialized courses
  • Specialized conferences
  • Hospitals (Pijl-Zieber et al., 2014)
  • Clinics and other educational communities

How Education Influences Practice

  • Critical thinking in various situations
  • Analyzing patients’ health conditions
  • Making appropriate diagnoses
  • Following professional standards
  • Appropriate work organization (Pijl-Zieber et al., 2014)
  • Assisting people with rare diseases

What Nursing Education Lacks

  • Practice
  • Critical thinking tasks
  • Observations of healing processes
  • Communication with experienced colleagues
  • Hospital visits
  • Research involvement


There is a tremendous gap between nursing education and practice. Students do not receive enough knowledge at universities to demonstrate it in their workplaces. However, education is an essential stage that gives people a general understanding of both human health and bodies.

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Blegen, M. A., Goode, C. J., Park, S. H., Vaughn, T., & Spetz, J. (2013). Baccalaureate education in nursing and patient outcomes. JONA: The Journal of Nursing Administration, 43(2), 89-94. Web.

Morton, P. G., & Fontaine, D. K. (2017). Critical care nursing: A holistic approach. Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer Health.

Oermann, M. H., & Gaberson, K. B. (2013). Evaluation and testing in nursing education (5th ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.

Papathanasiou, I. V., Tsaras, K., & Sarafis, P. (2014). Views and perceptions of nursing students on their clinical learning environment: Teaching and learning. Nurse Education Today, 34(1), 57-60. Web.

Pijl-Zieber, E. M., Barton, S., Konkin, J., Awosoga, O., & Caine, V. (2014). Competence and competency-based nursing education: Finding our way through the issues. Nurse Education Today, 34(5), 676-678. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2020, October 29). A Gap Between Nursing Education and Practice. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/a-gap-between-nursing-education-and-practice/

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StudyCorgi. 2020. "A Gap Between Nursing Education and Practice." October 29, 2020. https://studycorgi.com/a-gap-between-nursing-education-and-practice/.


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