Looking for zebras and finding horses: A qualitative narrative study of pre-RN licensure nursing Students' experience of a “normal” postnatal simulation

Academic Article


  • Background Simulation-based learning may be particularly useful in specialty nursing clinical rotations, such as maternal-newborn care, where pre-RN licensure nursing students typically have fewer clinical hours or ‘hands-on’ opportunities. Although simulated obstetric emergencies are frequently reported in the literature, childbirth and the postnatal period involve normal physiologic processes, and therefore a focus on “normal” challenges in immersive perinatal simulations may provide students with vital uniform clinical learning experiences. Objective To explore the value and meaning of an uncomplicated immersive postnatal simulation-based experience for pre-RN licensure nursing students. Design Qualitative design using narrative analysis. Setting Pre-RN licensure nursing program at a university in the northeastern United States. Methods Narrative analysis was used to assess 229 written reflections from students following an uncomplicated, immersive postnatal simulation experience. Results Themes identified through the analysis demonstrated that students experienced high anxiety in anticipation of the scenario, expecting a crisis to occur; students described looking for zebras as they searched for pathology but found “normality”. Students derived confidence from performing assessments and making clinical decisions, moving from anxiety to relief as they concluded that the mother and infant were experiencing normal, rather than emergent, challenges of the postnatal period. Conclusion Most students found value in the experience, recognizing the importance of learning maternal-newborn nursing from a physiologic rather than pathologic perspective.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 10391416
  • Author List

  • Shorten A; Ruppel H
  • Start Page

  • 185
  • End Page

  • 189
  • Volume

  • 48