Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Editor's Choice

Learning from failure

BMJ 2018; 362 doi: (Published 13 September 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;362:k3884

Rapid Response:

Failure in Nursing

Dear Editor,

I am in agreement with the writer's statement that life is nothing but learning and learning until death and each event behaves as a teacher. However, I would like to highlight the importance of early detection of failure in nursing, be it in the education or practice setting.

Early detection is vital in the education setting as students who are at risk students for failing will not be able to progress academically. High failure rate in courses being pursued by students will delay progression and as such programmes are implemented to increase the students' success rate (Gultice, Witham & Kallmeyer, 2015).

Nursing students are afforded the opportunity of practicing using simulations either low or high fidelity simulation and it is in this environment that failure can be accepted, as this is where they will learn from their mistakes and perfect the skill(s) being learnt and increase their competencies for execution in the clinical setting following debriefing sessions.

Simulation modalities such as standardized patients, anatomical models, part task trainers, computerized high-fidelity human patient simulators, and virtual reality which are used in health education as simulation allows learners to practice prior to clinical placement and patient contact, thus maximizing learning opportunities and patient safety (Ryall,Judd&Gordon,2016).

Early detection of students at risk for failing can help the educators design interventions which can ascertain why a student is failing and also what strategies can be utilized to enhance success rate of these students (He, Bailey, Rubinstein,& Zhang,2015). Failure in nursing practice can have life threatening effects on the clients being served, and this is exacerbated by a large number of clients per nurse and poor working environment which increases the incident of client adverse events such as medication errors and malpractice (Cho,Chin,Kim & Hong,2016).

Failure is the best teacher but in a controlled environment as nurses and nursing students deliver care to clients and making errors or failure in delivering efficient care can have life threatening effects on these clients.

Cho,E.,Chin,D.L.,Kim,S.,&Hong,O.(2016). The Relationships of nurse staffing level and work environment with patient adverse events. Journal of Nursing Scholarship,48(1),74-82.

Gultrice,A.,Witham,A.,&Kallmeyer,R.(2015).Are your students ready for Anatomy and Physiology? Developing tools to identify students at risk for failure. Advances in Physiology Education,39(2),108-115.

He,J.,Bailey,J.,Rubinstein,B.I.,&Zhang,R.(2015,January).Identifying At-Risk Students in Massive Open Online Courses.In AAAl(pp.1749-1755).

Ryall,T.,Judd,B.K.,&Gordon,C.J.(2016). Simulation based assessments in health professional education:A systematic review. Journal of Multidisciplinary healthcare,9,69.

Competing interests: No competing interests

30 September 2018
Mickelle N. Emanuel-Frith
Registered Nurse, Midwife
The UWI School of Nursing, Mona
9 Gibraltar Camp way, Mona Kingston 7