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Around half of nursing students lack understanding about research, survey finds

Nearly half of nursing students said that they did not obtain enough understanding of research in their course, a survey has found.  

The poll of 109 pre-registration nursing students in the UK found that 47% had not learned enough about research in their programme to understand and enjoy it.  

Further barriers to engagement with research included other academic demands (39%) and a lack of support to help engage in research (29%). 

Meanwhile, nearly half of students (44%) thought research should be included more in their course and one in seven thought it was relevant to their pre-registration training. 

The survey, undertaken by an undergraduate adult nursing student at the University of Stirling, was featured in a report by the Council of Deans, which represents UK university faculties for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals.  

As part of the report, entitled ‘Becoming research competent’, the Council invited all its members to respond to a survey about how research is integrated into courses. 

Of the 40% of the membership that responded, all integrated research into the undergraduate curriculum to some extent. However, one in 10 did not when it came to postgraduate pre-registration programmes. 

The biggest barrier to integrating research was competing curricula demands (71% of respondents), followed by a lack of expertise in the team (31%) and students lacking the skills required (29%).  

As part of a series of recommendations arising from the survey, the Council advised its members to ensure all postgraduate courses integrate research.  

Members were told to consider increasing the number of students undertaking primary and secondary research projects, as there was huge variability between universities.  

Faculties were also urged to boost the number of resourced or funded opportunities for students to become involved in research, as 41% of respondents said there were none or few of these.  

Professor Brendan McCormack, the Council’s executive member for research, said: ‘All healthcare professionals need to have foundational understanding of the role of research in assessing, evaluating and improving practice and universities play a crucial role in equipping the future workforce with the skills and confidence to apply and produce evidence.’ 

She continued: ‘The report also highlights the obvious potential to increase research opportunities for students through close collaboration between universities and practice partners.’