Student’s Name Institutional Affiliation Bridging Theory-Practice Gap in Nursing in Handling Patients with Chronic Diseases
Background Chronic diseases have by far been noted to be among the leading causes of death worldwide. According to WHO, the impact of chronic diseases on mortality rate is still on the rise since deaths resulting from the diseases are far much more than the ones reported by other infections including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria (Salah, 2018). A small number of modifiable risk factors are responsible for the reported chronic diseases and these include having unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and tobacco use. Developed countries have well established policies that appropriately manage the prevalence of chronic illnesses in society. Emerging economies have also developed similar policies, though the progress of such move is slow in Africa. Nurses play a critical role in managing chronic diseases not only in developed countries, but also across the globe. They are always in direct interaction with all health professionals beginning from physicians to patients and subordinates. They take care of chronic disease patients via application of various nursing theories and ensure that the patient gets well soon within the hospital environment. Some of the applicable theories include evidence-based care, applying chronic care model, a system’s approach to chronic care, and increased use of care management and medical home processes. Despite their usefulness, there exists a significant gap between theory learned in the classroom and its application to caring of patients with chronic illnesses. Problem Statement Nurses perform many duties within a hospital setting by providing care to terminally ill patients as well those suffering from chronic diseases. They seek to apply theories of care learned in the classroom to the health care setting in which they work. However, as Rebhan (2017) notes, matching textbook description of clinical situations with reality is a continuous problem encountered by many nurses. According to Scully (2010), nurses encounter this problem of theory – practice void at varying stages of practicing their profession, though it has been argued that the student nurses are the most prone to encounter the issue, given their novice rule governed status. According to Toufic and Osuji (2017), the complex nature of the theory-practice gap has not been fully understood. However, most scholars agree that it is closely related to the distancing of theoretical knowledge from the practical dimension of nursing. The issue in question is the most significant in nursing today since it provides a challenge to research-based practice. Matthew and Tucker (2018) also note that there is a problem when clinical practice fails to reflect the best available evidence, resulting in the results being sub-standard patient care. Such cases of the theory-practice gap have been reported for a long time, and despite the fact that it has been proven difficult to bring clinical practice and research evidence closer together for several years, it continues to be an issue that needs to be addressed with urgency. The existence of the gap can be attributed to a number of reasons. A study by Rolfe (2002), attributed the problem to outdated theoretical concepts combined with the misconception about the existing relationship between theory and practice. Rebhan (2017) Agrees with this argument and notes that the concept of outdated theories is more an issue of socialization of the theories into the modern clinical setting. It could also be an outcome of the need for a more structured reflection about the clinical experience that nurses encounter. As such, the prevalence of the knowledge practice gap is evident in chronic disease patients whereby nurses are unable to implement learned theories to treat and handle patients with such condition. The study will seek to explore this problem in relation to a practical application within a hospital setting, specifically All Seasons Care. Scope of the Study The goal of this study is to explore and understand the theory-practice gap from the perspective of a nurse responsible for taking care of patients with chronic diseases. Theory-practice gap has been defined as the existing disparities between best practice ideals taught in the classroom and those that practically exist within the hospital setting. The focus is to examine the organizational trends with regard to nursing theory-practice gap at All Seasons Care, determine explanatory causes, and identify applicable and practical solutions to the problem. Some of the attributable causes are inadequate qualifications of clinical instructors, communication mismatch, and failure to consider the disparities among learners. Research Question The study seeks to establish the nursing theory-practice gap within the All Seasons Care Hospital setting. The major focus is to establish the gap as it relates to caring of patients suffering from chronic diseases at the hospital. The study seeks to answer the question: i) Does nursing theory-practice knowledge gap exist within the hospital? ii) What are the causes of the problem? iii) What practical solution has the hospital employed to solve the problem?