Passing on words of wisdom: Using graduating student nurses’ experiences to influence the development of new entrants to a nursing programme.

Caroline Elizabeth Gibson, Kathleen MacDonald

Abstract


The Quality Assurance Agency (Mayes, 2009) recommends increasing student engagement in the first year of higher education. Peer learning can maximise student engagement and facilitate learning. This reflective paper explores the use of 'welcome' letters as part of an orientation and transition programme to year one of a pre-registration nursing programme. Welcome letters were written by final year students to inform new entrants about the realities of studying in an honours degree programme. The letters were distributed on the first day of induction. New students shared their letters as part of an icebreaking exercise and completed an evaluation form, reflecting feelings upon reading the letters and identifying any further issues. New entrants reported to feel more reassured about starting the programme and meeting new people. Other issues raised by the letters; clinical placements, the role of the personal tutor and expectations in class work, were responded to by faculty in the remainder of the induction. Using the letter as a tool, new entrants actively constructed their own learning needs about the forthcoming programme. The use of peer written welcome letters appears to be a powerful tool in engaging year one students during induction and may promote conditions for effective adult learning.

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